Alcohol consumption in Ireland, home of the world famous Guinness brewery, has increased by more than 40 per cent over the past decade, while it fell in most of the European Union, figures presented at a conference showed.
In the 10 years from 1989 to 1999, consumption of wine soared by 300 per cent, drinking of cider rose by 500 per cent and beer drinking rose 26 per cent, Ann Hope, national alcohol adviser at the Department of Health, told a conference on alcohol policy.
The boozing boom coincides with the rapid growth of the Irish economy which has given people greater spending power.
"Between 1989 and 1999 alcohol consumption per capita in Ireland increased by a massive 41 percent," Hope told the conference on Tuesday, according to a report in The Irish Times newspaper on Wednesday.
"Nine of the EU member states showed a decrease and three other countries showed a modest increase of just five per cent during the same period," Hope added.
She said that while sales of spirits fell between 1992 and 1996, there was a sharp increase from 1996 onwards, with a million additional litres of pure alcohol sold each year between 1998 and 2000.
She attributed this to the growing popularity of hard-liquor-based designer drinks aimed at young drinkers, such as Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice, as well as the popularity of mixing vodka with the energy drink Red Bull.She said there had also been an increase in assaults and other alcohol-related crime since 1995.