Press Release

Minister Gallagher calls on Publicans, Off-licenses and supermarkets to be extra vigilant as Junior Certificate celebrations commence

Mr Pat the Cope Gallagher T.D., Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, today (12 September 2007) congratulated Junior Certificate students on their results. However, he cautioned them to celebrate sensibly and safely and not to include alcohol in their celebrations. He also called on those licensed to sell alcohol to be extra vigilant at this time. Minister Gallagher stated “We know from recently published research that about half the children between the ages of 15 to 17 report to be current drinkers and just over a third report to have been ‘really drunk’ in the previous 30 days. At the same time it is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to purchase alcohol. Yet children under the age of 18 appear to have little difficulty in accessing alcohol.”

The European School survey ‘Project on Alcohol and other Drugs’ (ESPAD) ranks Ireland as the highest among the 35 European countries in terms of the number of adolescents who regularly binge drink and second highest in reported regular drunkenness. Recent research from the United Kingdom showed that adolescent binge-drinking is a risk behaviour associated with significant adversity and social exclusion in adult life. “The latest research from the UK makes worrying reading and there is no reason why the UK findings would not be reflected here in Ireland.” the Minister said.

An acceptance and comfortable familiarity with alcohol exists in Irish society. Alcohol is deeply rooted in Irish culture. The adverse effects of alcohol extend beyond physical health issues to mental, social and financial problems. There is a continuum of problems, which can affect everyone across the community. Minister Gallagher went on to say “Individuals must take responsibility for their own actions. Purchasing alcohol for supply to a person under the age of 18 – called ‘secondary purchasing’ – is illegal. I am calling on people not to buy or supply alcohol for anyone underage. We cannot be complacent about the potential short-term and longer term risks involved for our young people.”