Statement by Mary Hanafin TD, Minister for Children
In a statement Minister Hanafin said “One voice alone cannot be heard above the clinking of glasses and the rising din of intoxication – but many together will. Who is prepared to speak up about the widespread problem of child drunkenness?
The following are unacceptable but real facts –
- Almost three-quarters of 15 and 16 year old children have drunk alcohol at least once a month.
- One third of them admit to binge drinking on three or more occasions a month.
- One quarter of them will have been drunk on three or more occasions a month.
The problem will not start to be addressed until people – children as well as adults – are prepared to raise their voice and say that it is wrong for children to drink alcohol. There is a widespread reluctance to do this for fear of being accused of spoiling the party.
Christenings, weddings, birthdays, exams, football matches, celebrations and just plain week-ends are all seen by adults as well as children as excuses for children to drink.
Child drinking is no longer an exception – it is the norm – and it is widely accepted.
Government has –
- Published a ´National Alcohol Policy´
- Instigated a ´Responsible Serving of Alcohol Programme´
- Published a ´Framework for Developing a College Alcohol Programme´
- Published a study on ´The Impact of Alcohol Advertising on Teenagers in Ireland´
- introduced legislation providing for the closure of pubs and off- licences which serve children
It is clear that Government alone cannot solve this problem. It is clear that politicians alone – of any party or every party – cannot solve this issue.
It is a problem for children, for parents, for teachers, for Gardaí, for those involved in children´s sport and those involved in children´s leisure. It is everybody´s problem.
Are people prepared to speak up? Or next week-end, like last week-end and every other week-end, will the clink of glasses and the din of intoxication drown out the voices of concern?”