In 2018 the Canal Communities and Dublin 12 Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Forces made a joint submission to the Department of Health for funding to embark on research. The purpose of the research was to collate a report exploring the changes in the availability of alcohol sales outlets over a twenty-year period in both communities and the relationship with alcohol related harm.
The report was undertaken by researcher Aoife Dowling (2018), and the publication is titled “An exploration of the relationship between alcohol related harm and availability of alcohol in the Canal Community and Dublin 12 area”. This report compared the density of local alcohol sales outlets from 1991 to 2018. In 1991, alcohol could only be sold in pubs, bars, restaurants, and off licences. From then on, the number of outlets selling alcohol increased; this was due to changes in the licencing laws, which allowed other commercial outlets, such as convenience stores, petrol stations and supermarkets, to sell alcohol. The report found that both communities had higher density of alcohol sales, increasing from 49 outlets in 1991 to 125 in 2018. This was an increase of over 150% which means that accessibility is two and a half times greater than it was in 1991.
To raise consciousness and awareness within the communities affected, it was decided to develop a short animation film that would highlight the increase in alcohol availability locally. A joint task force committee invited two community-based artists, Sadhbh Lawlor and Gareth Gowran, to design, direct and produce the film. Their work included a survey with community workers to reflect on the impact of the increase in alcohol sales on the community as a whole. Over a period of two years, the artists, in conjunction with the joint steering committee, completed the project and the film was titled ‘Turning Down the Volume’. This animation film highlights the widespread availability of alcohol and how this saturation impacts those living in the community. Professor Joe Barry kindly narrated the film and given his expertise as Fellow Emeritus with Trinity College Dublin for Public Health & Primary Care. The film was launched in The Lighthouse Cinema on Friday, November the 19th 2021 to an exclusive audience by way of invitation.
The film is one part of a process that will raise awareness on the issue. To accompany the film, the steering committee and the artists plan to develop a workbook that can be used as an educational and consciousness-raising resource in community groups and schools.