Dr Michael Byrne


Michael is the Head of Student Health Department in University College Cork . The Department is responsible for delivering student-focussed health services, targeting illnesses and health issues that predominate in the university population.

Dr Byrne has had a leadership role in a variety of university and national initiatives including;

  • The development of University College Cork’s
    – Mental Health Policy
    – Fitness to Practise Policy
    – Fitness to Continue in Study Policies
  • The use of a curricular approach to effect attitudinal and behavioural change in the 3rd level setting, in the area of sexual consent and sexual assault
  • The roll-out of UCC Health Matters, with UCC now a recognised Health Promoting University
  • Delivering initiatives to reduce alcohol and psychoactive substance related harm amongst students.

His work in the field of reducing alcohol-related harm amongst the student population came to national prominence in 2013 when UCC Health Matters under his leadership was awarded Best Public Health Initiative, and the overall award at the Irish Healthcare Awards.

He is currently leading the REACT Project (Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption in Third level) a national 3rd level sector project to develop a national awards and recognition scheme for 3rd level institutions that target alcohol-related ham in their colleges.

He is Principal Investigator on the MiUSE Project (My Understanding of Substance Experimentation), which is seeking to develop an on-line behavioural change tool for students to help reduce harm from novel Psychoactive Substance use

He was previously a Lead Consultant in Primary Care in Edinburgh Scotland, having been a partner in a General Practice for 7 years prior to that. He has considerable experience of working in a multi-cultural environment as Head of an Air-Base Primary Care clinic in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In his spare time, he delivers master workshops on communication skills to Doctors throughout Ireland and the UK.

He has a wife, 4 kids, a dog, and a large garden.

Support for evidence-based alcohol policy in Ireland

Throughout the past 20 years, national policies in Ireland have noted the importance of tackling excessive alcohol consumption. Most recently, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was published which proposes the introduction of minimum unit pricing, health labelling, advertising restrictions and structural separation. However, public opinion on its implementation has yet to be determined. Thus, the aim of this research was to examine the level of support for evidence-based alcohol control policy among the Irish population.

A household survey with quota sampling in three pilot sites in Southern Ireland was undertaken. Thirty sampling points were selected in each area with sampling points representative of the population of each ward, and a starting address was selected (randomly) within each sampling point. Consumption, attitude and behaviour questions were taken from previously validated instruments.

In total, 1,075 individuals completed the household questionnaire. Hazardous alcohol consumption was reported by 51.1% of the population, 31.5% of women and 69.8% of men. The majority of individuals (>50%) supported alcohol policy measures. These individuals were more likely to be low risk drinkers, older individuals, unemployed and report alcohol-related issues in their local area.

Over half of Irish adults are drinking at a hazardous level. The impact of this is seen in both personal and second-hand effects. However, in the shadow of Irelands Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, this research signals support for evidence based strategies including minimum unit pricing, a reduction in alcohol sales outlets and separate alcohol sales outlets.

Click here for presentation slides.

Back to Annual Conference 2017 – Delegate Speakers