‘Some of them are drinking mixtures that would kill a horse’

DRUNKEN teenagers should “go home and stick their fingers down their throat, rather than waste valuable resources” at Accident and Emergency departments, a health board boss said yesterday.

Their presence in A&E units delays the care of seriously ill patients, according to the Association of Health Boards.

Association chairman Cllr Jack Bourke said they should deal with the side-effects themselves.

“All most of them need to do is lie down and sleep it off, or be sick or get pumped. These binge drinkers are a menace to themselves and to society. Really what they should do is go home and stick their fingers down their throat, rather than waste valuable resources.”

Mr Burke said if they had to be brought to the hospital, it should not be to A&E, but to a designated area where they could sleep off the effects of alcohol. However he said it was unfair to put that extra cost on the hospital and he called for an awareness programme to alert youngsters to the harmful effects of binge drinking, starting at sixth class in national school.

“Some of them are drinking mixtures that would kill a horse. I’ve been in A&E units chock-a-block on a Saturday night with binge drinkers. It’s a deplorable situation.”

The association has written to Health Minister Micheál Martin calling for a review of pub opening hours, a ban on the sale of alcohol from off-licences and in nightclubs after midnight and a clampdown on advertising. The call has been supported by child welfare group Barnardos, which is hosting a seminar in Dublin today to advise parents how to tackle underage drinking.

Head of Barnardos National Children’s Resource Centre Anne Conroy urged parents to keep communications open to ensure their children did not start drinking at a young age.

“Over half of Ireland’s young people begin drinking before the age of 12, and half of girls and two-thirds of boys in the 15-16 age group binge drink,” she said.

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