Charity Director Fiona Ryan said: “While we welcome the overall reduction in youth crime figures as well as the 22 per cent drop in alcohol offences in 2009, the fact remains that the largest category of youth offences are still alcohol – related. According to the Garda Diversion Programme’s 2009 Annual Report, some 17.6 per cent of youth crimes were categorised as alcohol offences.
“However, we already know that alcohol is a factor in many other youth crimes, including for instance public order and criminal offences.
“We also know from the Irish Youth Justice Service that most young people gain access to alcohol with ‘relative ease’. Added to that, the widespread availability of cheap alcohol means that children and young people can get drunk on pocket money prices, with cans of beer being sold for as little as 67 cent each and bottles of vodka retailing for less than €12. When we consider that the Office of Tobacco Control estimated that the average Irish 16 to 17-year-old was spending around €20 a week on alcohol, then €20 has the potential to buy a lot more alcohol that it used to.
Ms Ryan added: “We agree wholeheartedly with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Mr Barry Andrews T.D. – we cannot become complacent when it comes to reducing and preventing youth crime but the relative ease at which children can access alcohol and the widespread availability of cheap alcohol is not making the situation any easier.”
For further information or comment contact:
Alcohol Action Ireland Communications Officer Cathy Gray (01) 878 0610/ 087 995 0186