Irish demand their pint for backing EU treaty

Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:03am EDT
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - After abortion, the army and taxes, another pivotal issue has emerged in the debate over Ireland's ratification of the European Union's Lisbon reform treaty: the right to a single drink on the way home.

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland said on Wednesday plans to reduce the amount of alcohol that can be legally consumed before driving could make people vote "No" in the second referendum held on the treaty in Ireland in as many years.

"People in rural Ireland will see this as more of the nanny statism and it probably would affect the way they might consider voting in respect of the Lisbon treaty," said Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland, which represents 5,000 publicans.

Reducing the limit would not save lives and put more than 1,000 pubs out of business by stopping drivers from enjoying a small drink, Cribben said, adding that speeding was the real threat to safety.

As such tough decisions are often blamed on Brussels, the move could turn people against the EU, he told Newstalk radio.

The Road Safety Authority says even a single drink impairs driving by affecting the ability to judge distances and risks and by slowing down decision-making.

(Reporting by Andras Gergely, Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton and Paul Casciato)

<p>Pints of Guinness in a file photo. REUTERS/Peter Macdiarmid</p>