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It's Good Business

The Responsible Serving of Alcohol Programme (RSA) blends good business sense with an astute guide to legal responsibilities. Developed in consultation with the drinks and hospitality industry, supported by Fáilte Ireland, RSA is a three-hour workshop with a strong practical focus which includes case study discussion, a question and answer session on current issues facing those involved in the service of alcohol, and support for development of policies and procedures tailored to the needs of individual premises. Each participant receives an official RSA Certificate.

Mary Kennedy, CEO, says that “responsible serving of alcohol is in everyone’s interest. A well run bar is the safest place to drink. Servers are facing new challenges as patterns of drinking change and the law changes. The programme is very practical and been evolved to address current issues.”

 “I have been involved in the development of the RSA programme since 1999 when it was first launched. In the last 14 years a lot has changed. How and where we consume alcohol has changed. Laws and regulations have changed. Employees and employers who serve alcohol need to understand their role in response to this new business environment. Phenomena such as the ‘Car Bar’ have become increasingly popular, as well as a massive increase in the number of patrons bringing their own alcohol to the pub/ hotel. While the pub/ hotel can be responsible for any alcohol related incidents on the premises, it is difficult to supervise this, and to monitor customers when they are not purchasing alcohol on the premises. The RSA workshop deals with all these important issues offering practical solutions and allows for an open discussion among staff at all levels in a bid to resolve issues which are causing increasing difficulty both from a legal and financial perspective.”









“It is against the law to serve a drunk customer and the bar tender can be personally liable. I trained a group of young staff working in a busy nightclub and on hearing this, one participant said ‘a lot of our customers are drinking at home, once they get here they are either on their way to, or are hoping to, get drunk, so are we all, as bar staff, breaking the law?’ This was an honest and relevant question. The RSA workshop will teach staff the legal definition of ‘drunk’, the signs of intoxication, the point that they can be in trouble as well as how to avoid difficult situations. We explain the various penalties a license holder can face for allowing disorderly conduct and of course, we will help each and every premises develop a set of guidelines in the form of an Alcohol House Policy, which if written well and clearly displayed can be used if a court case occurs.”

“Learning how to identify problems is just one aspect of the RSA training. We encourage open discussion in a totally non-judgemental environment. As the workshop progresses, we want to see staff gaining confidence, learning how to see a potential problem before it happens. We carry out some role play; I will often be the ‘drunk’ customer and will put participants through their paces. It’s fun, but it is also vital that staff develop the skill to refuse, if needed.”


“The programme helps with the identification and development of relevant policies and procedures. For example, we encourage hotels to introduce a residents’ bar ‘closing time’ and include in the premise’s policy a statement such as ’Bar closing times may be changed to reflect in house business’.

This allows the hotel full discretion over the closing time of the residents’ bar. It gives more control to the night managers and helps when dealing with late drinkers without affecting business. Also, for hotels, a room service policy is so important - a bedroom can never be considered a ‘private residence’. We also give tips on handling VIP guests and large functions.”

If you would like to organise a workshop for your staff or would like general information on local workshops email:, or call Mary Kennedy on 086 1718641.

Definition of the ‘car bar’
When you’re at a social gathering that frowns on excessive drinking and you stash hard liquor in your car to obtain the level of drunk you want without the patrons of the gathering watching you drink in excess.
Urban Dictionary (

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