Irish Government Health Warning

by Michael Nugent on July 12, 2013

Don't Drink and Legislate

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 athyco July 16, 2013 at 11:50 pm

I need to ask you what you mean. Surely after the Empowering Women conference, you mean to support Aine Collins. How are you doing that here?

I showed this to six people, first checking their knowledge of the incident. All were completely unaware.

Five of them interpreted the photo as depicting the woman as the legislator who’d been drinking. To them, a drunk woman was stumbling and being caught by a surprised but helpful man. One wondered if she had puked in the lap of the man to the left. Another interpreted through the graininess of the re-sizing that she was wearing sunglasses indoors to hide bloodshot eyes.

Yet none of them understood–once I’d explained the event–why the man’s sober action toward a colleague was being minimized as though he were a regular down at the pub getting handsy with the waitress.

2 Michael Nugent July 17, 2013 at 12:57 am


I suspect that you can make an educated guess how it is intended to support an accountable sober work ethic in Leinster House generally as well as Aine Collins in particular.

I am sure that you can get any number of interpretations of what is happening in any photograph, if you ask only people who are unaware of the context.

When you then explained the context, did you tell them about Tom Barry’s admission that he had been drinking that night, about reports that other TDs were also drinking that night, about TDs being drunk on the night that the former Anglo Irish Bank was liquidated, about the ongoing issue of drink culture among Irish politicians including the Brian Cowen hangover incident, and about the fact that this latest incident has caused several politicians and many commentators to yet again raise the issue of the availability of alcohol in Leinster House?

Also, did you ask your friends why they were minimizing the idea of ‘a regular down at the pub getting handsy with the waitress’, as being somehow less serious than what happened to Aine Collins?

3 athyco July 17, 2013 at 2:24 am

The people to whom I showed the photoshop weren’t all friends. And yes, there was discussion of why such behavior anywhere is out of bounds and how the surprise of it happening in a legislative body should point that out to us, discussion of why they thought it was the woman who was inebriated, discussion of what drinking–and at what level–actually brings out about one’s personality, discussion of how photoshops can be helpful to someone new to the issue rather than confusing due to ambiguity. All sorts of useful discussion…once I’d explained the context.

Which you didn’t do in the OP.

4 Sansha July 17, 2013 at 5:37 am

I’ve got to agree. I assumed this was some comment on the woman being drunk and having stumbled into the man.

5 Michael Nugent July 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

Okay, I get the point that the photo can be misinterpreted by people who, for any of many valid reasons, are unfamiliar with that news story and/or with the drink culture in Leinster House.

That could be rectified by adding an explanation in text, but then you lose the impact of the image, in the same way as you do if you explain a joke or a cartoon or indeed any piece of art while you are presenting it.

I’ll think about whether and/or how to balance those factors in the future. Thanks for the feedback.

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