Don’t blame kids – getting access to alcohol “not a problem” for teens

Don ’t blame kids  – getting access to alcohol  “not a problem ” for teens: commence test purchasing as a matter of urgency

 “Junior Cert celebrations just a more hyped version of the reality of teen drinking pattern  – three out of five teens have binged on alcohol in previous month – 86% of teenagers said getting beer or spirits easy ”

On the day 54,000 Junior Cert students were due to celebrate results, Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, highlighted the fact that at least eight out of ten teenagers when surveyed said they had no problem getting alcohol.  

Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Fiona Ryan said:  “If children are telling us that there is no problem getting alcohol and at least one in four of them were able to buy it themselves then the following questions have to be asked:  

  • how are at least one in four of them able to buy it for themselves?
  • how are children getting alcohol if they ’re not buying it themselves?

After all, it is illegal in this country to buy alcohol if you are under the age of 18 or to sell alcohol to someone who is under 18.

 “It is our hope that provisions under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 which allow for test purchasing by minors under strict guidelines will be commenced by the Department of Justice as a matter of urgency. Our hope is that test purchasing will prove a useful measure in providing insight into why children say it is so easy to get access to alcohol. We also hope the Gardai will use their powers under the Act to ensure that children and young people are not exposed to harm from binge drinking and take alcohol from minors.

 “Our children, and in particular our girls, are among the top teen binge drinkers in Europe  – three out of five teens have binged on alcohol in the previous month and 86% said getting beer or spirits was relatively easy.   Instead of viewing Junior Cert celebrations, and the associated alcohol misuse that has become part of the celebrations, as something out of the ordinary, perhaps we should be more realistic and view the kind of drinking that goes on at this time as a more hyped version of our teen drinking patterns.

 “Faced with this supply and marketing flood of alcohol which we currently have, when beer can be cheaper than water in some supermarkets which it is sold next to,   why are we surprised teenagers are binge drinking. ”  

Note to Editors

The ESPAD Survey

The survey referred to is the most recent survey of Irish children ’s drinking patterns, the   European Schools Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (2004) or ESPAD survey; the survey was used extensively in the Office of the Minister for Children ’s Report State of the Nation ’s Children  – the key centralised source of statistics on children in Ireland  

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003

The act restates the prohibition on the purchase or delivery of alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years on   licensed premises. It also requires that all those between the ages of 18 and 20 years carry identification to prove their age if on a licensed premises. Alcohol consumption by a child in a private residence is conditional on parental consent.  

The National Age Card was introduced in 1999 to ensure proof of age when purchasing alcohol.  

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008

Among a number of measures the act allows Gardai to seize alcohol from minors. Two pieces of the legislation have yet to commence: test purchasing and Section 9 which would allow for the structural separation of alcohol from groceries in shops and supermarkets

For further information contact:  

Alcohol Action Ireland Information Officer Niamh Tierney 01 878 0610   or  CEO Fiona Ryan on 00353 87 219 5723.