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The Responsible Serving of Alcohol Programme launches new online training initiative


The Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA) was launched on 20th October 2014, a new initiative for training bar owners and staff in Ireland. In addition to current face to face RSA training which began in 1999, the RSA Online course responds to the demand for a server training option which is more accessible and cost effective.  

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) who represent well over 100,000 people employed in the service and hospitality sector have come together to support the initiative.


Following extensive global research and in consultation with key industry personnel, RSA Online is approved by medical and legal experts. The new initiative is a 90 minute online (e-learning) course consisting of an interactive learning component, examination and certification. (for more information please click here)

Speaking at the launch at Dublin pub The Bridge 1859, Mary Kennedy, owner of and developer of the RSA Programme said; “Bartenders and servers have a tough job pleasing the customer and obeying the law can be challenging. Responsible Serving of Alcohol (RSA) training is designed to support the real needs of the industry, instilling confidence to make decisions and act decisively when the need arises.  Customer safety, protection of minors and moderate consumption of alcohol are key elements of responsible serving and its importance to our country’s health welfare is crucial.


“Having achieved significant success through our face to face RSA training, we are delighted to be in position to bring our output to the next level. ‘RSA Online’ is user friendly, quick and comprehensive. It contains real life scenarios, interactive quizzes and multimedia animation, providing a good knowledge base for all those employed in the service industry.”

“Meeting all current EU guidelines and using the latest e-learning technology, the Irish RSA Programme is recognised as one of the best server training courses in Europe. In my opinion RSA training should be a pre-requisite for all staff working with alcohol, which is the case in the UK and a vast number of countries around the world; The US, Australia, Canada, etc.

Until it is made a legal requirement, the VFI, LVA, IHF have committed to continue promoting the programme to their members and have done so over the years. It is a credit to the organisations that 15,000 staff have already completed the face to face training.


Initial dialogue with the Department of Health has been good and we would urge the Department of Health to take a look at how this programme can be implemented for the benefit of those working in the service and sale of alcohol.”

Padraig Cribben, Donal O’Keeffe and Tim Fenn, CEO’s of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, The Licensed Vintners’ Association and The Irish Hotels Federation, respectively, welcomed the new online programme. The three men stated it would of great benefit to the entire service industry and would equip all staff in pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants with the skillset needed to best serve the consumer. The collective feeling amongst the three representatives is that the Irish consumer will be able to enjoy a drink safe in the knowledge they are being served by a fully qualified member of staff.

They also stressed the importance of alcohol being sold in a controlled and regulated environment and warned of the scant consideration being given to the manner in which alcohol is being sold in supermarkets up and down the length and breadth of the country.


Dr Stephen Stewart, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Director of the Centre for Liver Disease, Mater Hospital speaking at the launch also commented; “The bartender’s role can be very challenging. It is critical that bar staff understand the effects of alcohol - whether acute or chronic - so that they know when people are running into trouble and can head off problems before they happen. Alcohol is a unique commodity and must be treated with respect and some caution. An educational course that offers a good grounding in the key elements of this is invaluable and should, in my view, be a pre-requisite in the training of bar staff. With raised awareness of the potential problems associated with alcohol among those that serve it we move closer to a time when we as a nation can develop a more healthy relationship with alcohol, limit harms and enjoy its consumption in moderation or at least with a better understanding of potential risks.”


RSA Online is the subject matter for an extensive research campaign being undertaken by the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and coordinated by Dr. Joanne Malone of the department of languages, tourism and hospitality. The research will assess the impact of online server training on the hospitality industry in Ireland. The research will be carried out across industry sectors (Hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants) and across various levels of staff (junior bartenders, managers/owners of licensed premises).


John Mulcahy, Head of Tourism, Fáilte Ireland says; "Failte Ireland is one of the original supporters of the RSA programme since its inception fifteen years ago and remains committed to supporting its development and promotion, particularly where tourists are likely to experience the benefits.  Today's launch of the Responsible Serving of Alcohol Online Programme is a natural progression in bringing this important message to as wide an audience as possible within the Irish tourism industry.  In doing so, the RSA programme helps to positively contribute to the tourist experience in Ireland."


ABFI is a sector association within IBEC and represents alcoholic drinks manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland; Director Kathryn D’Arcy says “The alcohol industry takes its responsibilities extremely seriously. It is very much in our industry’s interest to ensure that people enjoy our products moderately and to reduce alcohol misuse, wherever possible. We believe in evidence-based solutions to achieve this. As such, we fully support the RSA online course, which provides pub and hotel staff with accessible and cost-effective training, approved by medical and legal experts.”

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