Oddly Enough

Drink relaxes jumpy Irish drivers, MP says

Customers enjoy a pint of stout as they celebrate Arthur's Day in Slattery's Bar in Rathmines, Dublin, September 24, 2009. Arthur's Day is the 250th birthday celebration of Arthur Guinness, the founder of Guinness stout. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

DUBLIN (Reuters) - A politician from Ireland’s governing party has said “jumpy” drivers might benefit from having a relaxing alcoholic drink to steady their nerves.

Ireland is gripped by a feisty debate over government plans to cut the legal blood alcohol content limit for motorists to 50 mg per 100 ml from 80 mg to try to reduce road accidents.

Some 20 members of parliament from Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s Fianna Fail party oppose lowering the limit which would rule out a traditional Irish pint of Guinness for those driving.

“If drink is such a sedative, it can make people who are jumpy on the road, or nervous, be more relaxed,” said Mattie McGrath, Fianna Fail’s Tipperary South representative, speaking out in favour of a modest tipple.

There was no evidence to back up McGrath’s claim which made the front page of most Irish papers, said the AA motoring group.

“It’s an old wives’ tale,” said AA Director of Policy Conor Faughnan, adding: “You will get people who’ll tell you that smoking is good for you based on a granny who lived to be 95.”

Reporting by Andras Gergely, editing by Peter Millership