Calls for vigilance in sale of drink to young people

As more than 55,000 Leaving Cert students prepare to celebrate tonight, several organisations have called for greater vigilance in the sale of alcohol to young people.

Alcohol Action Ireland, along with drinkaware.ie and the National Parents’ Council (NPC), has urged off-licences, supermarkets, and pubs to check IDs to prevent under-18s buying alcohol.

Students are entitled to celebrate their results but doing so in a safe and responsible manner was important, according to Samantha Byrne of Alcohol Action Ireland.

“It can be an emotional and volatile time for these young people and their families. The problem is that some, who might not have done as well as they wanted, would experience feelings of disappointment and deflation. And when you add alcohol into this mix, it can be quite challenging.

“We would ask supermarkets, pubs and off-licences to be extra vigilant in supplying alcohol to those over 18 only,” she said.

The 2011 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs showed that the consumption of alcohol in Ireland by teenagers was higher than the European average.

The survey found 50% of respondents had drunk alcohol in the last 30 days.

Fionnuala Sheehan, chief executive of www.drinkaware.ie, asked parents to lead by example when it came to celebrating.

“Parents clearly are very important role models for their children and have a critical role to play. They mcan guide their children’s drinking behaviour by leading by example, discussing the topic of alcohol openly, setting out clear rules and the reasons for them.

“Also, over-18s purchasing alcohol for under-18s are really not doing younger teenagers any favours.”

Alternative celebrations, such as going out for a family meal after results, were suggested by the parents council who said tonight should be remembered for all the right reasons.

Some tips for students celebrating results today include pacing themselves and snacking while drinking, respecting those who do not drink alcohol, organising a way home, and bringing ID to avoid being turned away from pubs.

Meanwhile, those planning to celebrate abroad, have been advised to “remember the basics”, such as having a passport in date and storing it safely; securing travel insurance; not renting motorbikes or quads without appropriate safety gear; noting the location of the nearest Irish embassy; and getting a European Health Insurance card.

Gardaí, meanwhile, warned they would be policing “appropriately and proportionally”.

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