Gardaí are leading an initiative to crack down on alcohol misuse in Kerry, in particular underage drinking and drink-related crime.
Despite a reduction in alcohol-related incidents over the past four years, gardaí are concerned about the number of continued breaches of the Public Order Act due to excessive drinking.
The county’s most senior garda, Chief Superintendent Pat Sullivan said: “From my experience of prosecuting in the district courts, the sittings would be very short if alcohol and drugs were not such a factor.”
Public representatives and other community-based groups are also part of the initiative.
Kerry’s joint policing committee intends to lead the campaign against alcohol misuse in the county for the remainder of this year. The project involves the mayors of Tralee, Killarney, and Listowel working together for the first time on the issue.
Patrick Connor Scarteen, the committee chairman, yesterday said there was a serious need to tackle misuse, including underage drinking.
Proposals, he said, would be drawn up for submission to a number of government bodies working on the problem and people in Kerry would also be invited to make submissions.
“There’s really a multitude of issues, including the closure of rural Garda stations, reduced Garda resources, and burglaries, but the most serious concern is about the misuse of alcohol,” Mr Connor Scarteen said.
“Tackling that problem will be our priority in 2012.
We will also be creating greater awareness of the issue.”
Chief Supt Sullivan welcomed the initiative and stressed the need to reduce alcohol-related crime. He said many Public Order Act offences and cases of assault causing harm arise from misuse of alcohol, although there has been a significant reduction in recent years.
Chief Supt Sullivan added that society needs to take a look at itself and parents, in particular, had a big responsibility.
Meanwhile, gardaí have confirmed they are investigating five alleged assaults in Killarney during the annual Rally of the Lakes last weekend.
Two men were taken to hospital following a row in the town but their injuries are reportedly minor.
Crowds in Killarney for the event were not as big as in previous years. However, despite announcements by the rally organisers that boy racers were not welcome, hundreds of young drivers in noisy, modified cars arrived from many parts of the country. Tyre markings on roads surrounding the town provided evidence of the presence of boy racers.
The number of motoring offences, meanwhile, was down by about 50% on previous rally weekends.
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