Principal backs move encouraging parents to bring teenagers to the pub

A school principal is supporting a move by publicans to encourage parents to bring their older teenage children to the pub to show them how to drink responsibly.

John O’Donovan, of St Joseph’s Secondary School, Ballybunion, Co Kerry, yesterday described the Vintners’ Federation (VFI) initiative as a good idea, saying it was “lovely” to bring families together socially in pubs.

Publicans in Cork and Kerry are planning to take part in a pilot project at Christmas whereby parents will be urged to bring their 18- and 19-year-olds to their premises.

While acknowledging a vested interest, the VFI said it wanted to address the problem of young people bingeing on cheap alcohol purchased in establishments other than pubs.

The VFI believes that teenagers drinking at home before going out to premises where alcohol is available is a cause for concern and leads to serious late-night problems.

A recent survey found over half of 18- to 24-year-olds always, or occasionally, drink before going out.

Mr O’Donovan, a principals’ representative on secondary teachers’ union ASTI, pointed out there was a separate issue with 14- to 18-year-olds drinking and a question about what to do with them.

He said those who abuse alcohol and end up in hospital emergency units should be fined.

“If someone underage ends up in an A&E drunk, then their parents should be fined,” Mr O’Donovan suggested on Radio Kerry. “If it was an adult, the fine should be taken from their wages or social welfare.”

He said publicans did not want to see people bingeing or drinking to excess, and welcomed proposals for responsible drinking.

Mr O’Donovan stressed there was a parenting issue in relation to young people’s behaviour, asking if some parents knew where their children were when they went out at night.

A VFI spokesperson said plans for the Christmas campaign are being finalised.

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