Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Irresponsible drinking

Now, I'm not a parent. Let me just say that before I can be accused of not having a leg to stand on!

But the case of the Irish couple whose kids were taken off them in Portugal because they got so drunk is something else. While I completely agree that they should not have got so drunk, and that the authorities were right to remove the kids from them while they recovered, it has to be acknowledged that there is a bigger issue here.

Irish parents do this all the time. In Ireland. And who looks after the kids then?

I've known families in my own home village to spend the entire weekend in the pub, with kids going from pub to shop, sitting out on the street and waiting, just waiting, for their parents to get drunk enough so that someone will give them a lift to their home, miles away. And who looked after them?

Nobody. Because here we have a culture of not interfering. While it was well-known that that family followed the same pattern every week, who was going to interfere and make sure those children were safe and well? Because that would entail a) suggesting there's something wrong with drinking yourself stupid and b) interfering in 'someone else's business'.

And those are two things Irish people are not good at. While we are all going around tut-tutting and using our well rehearsed exclamations of disgust, it might be time for us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we would have done in the same situation as the hotel staff.

Irish hotel staff probably would have manoeuvred the couple back to their room and kept the kids occupied (in the bar!) while they slept it off.


  1. This story appears to show signs of taking another turn as it may be possible that they were overcome by the heat, food poisoning whatever and weren't after spending the day on the sand piste.


    The hotel manager says they left at 2000hr and were back at 2200hrs. Just 2 hours. It sounds to me the most likely scenario is they went out after a long day and basically were laid low by a relatively small amount of alcohol because they were dehydrated and shagged tired and the Mrs got sick because of something she ate. Sangria is great stuff but you can end up drinking it too quickly if you're not use to it. Portugal is a lovely place and the food is great but you can get unfamiliar bugs doing things to your innards faster than you can say "Oh, I'm going to be....".

  2. Dan,

    It seems you're right. In that case my humble apologies to the couple involved. Having followed the coverage rather closely, it appears that the same enterprising journalist was doing most of it. Noting that I would be inclined to believe that this would never have been a 'story' if the journalist hadn't been staying nearby. As a journo myself I have to say I'm always on the lookout for the big break, and here this one thought she had another child neglect story in the same area, one year on from the McCanns. Sad but likely I'm afraid.

  3. The most shocking thing for me is that the husband has since said (and I'm presuming this is easy to confirm) that he accompanied his wife to the hospital and that the children were left in the care of the resort which was of the Apart-Hotel type. I wonder what kind of press the place will get now if when a parent is struck down sick and they have to go to the hospital the place will shop you to the authorities and your kids end up in care.