Huge quantities of booze sold at pocket-money prices…

From the Sun on Sunday

IRELAND’S underage boozing is spiralling rapidly out of control and set to get WORSE, alcohol watchdogs have warned.

Activists have called for a severe Government crackdown on underage drinking in the wake of the Phoenix Park concert mayhem last weekend.

Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Fiona Ryan believes a ban on alcohol sponsorship of major sporting events must be brought in as a matter of urgency.

She has also called for the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing in supermarkets and off-licences, citing the availability of “pocket money-priced alcohol” as one of the major causes for concern.

She told the Irish Sun: “There needs to be a serious and practical focus aimed at preventing underage drinking ”” and excessive drinking in general.

“As terrifying as the events of last week were, you don’t need to go to a concert in the Phoenix Park to see public order offences en masse due to excessive alcohol.

“Unfortunately, scenes like this are becoming the norm on most streets on a Friday or Saturday night. There isn’t just one single cause to blame for our alcohol issues, but it’s clear action needs to be taken.

“When you consider 97 per cent of all public order offences are alcohol related, and 30 per cent of A&E incidents are to do with drink, that gives an indication of the drain on resources.”

The Drink Action Ireland chief reckons the biggest concern lies with discount booze selling in supermarkets.

She explained: “The selling of cheap alcohol has had a serious impact, there’s no question.

“You have massive quantities of alcohol being sold at pocket-money prices and readily available. It’s a recipe for disaster. I also firmly believe the older generation have a major role to play in setting an example.

“It’s all very well to roll your eyes and blame the youth of today, but why should young people behave any differently if they see the same sort of behaviour from responsible adults?”

Just four in ten Irish adults support banning alcohol sponsorship of sports, while six out of ten support the introduction of minimum alcohol pricing, a new survey has found.

A lack of knowledge about maximum drink consumption recommendations was shown in the survey published by the Health Research Board (HRB) during the week.

Just ten per cent of adults knew the recommended max number of standard alcoholic drinks for men was 21, or 14 for women, or could tell how many units of alcohol were in different drinks.

  A standard drink is defined as having 10 grams of alcohol, which is equivalent to a pub measure of spirits, a small 100ml glass of wine or half a pint of lager.

The survey of 1,020 adults, conducted in May by Ipsos/MRBI, was weighted to reflect the population in gender, age and location.

The report shows younger people are more price-sensitive than the rest of the population when it comes to alcohol.

Dr Jean Long of the HRB said the findings indicate those aged 18 to 24 years of age “wish to have a very liberal approach to alcohol and to have very cheap alcohol”. Half of young people who buy booze in supermarkets would buy more if prices dropped, compared to 25 per cent overall.

Two-thirds of younger people would buy more alcohol when it is on special offer or reduced, compared with less than half ”” 45 per cent ”” of the overall population.

Just a third of this age group supported minimum pricing, compared with two-thirds of those aged 35 to 64.

Overall the survey found Irish people were less responsive to price than elsewhere.

It would take a price increase of 25 per cent to get two-thirds of people to buy less alcohol in supermarkets. With a 50 per cent increase in supermarket drink prices, a quarter of people would still not change their behaviour.

Dr Long explained: “It is possible that we would be prepared to pay more for alcohol than in the UK because we are heavier drinkers.”

She added that the finding on the lack of support for alcohol sponsorship would be the “one disappointing finding” for the Government.

The Department of Health asked the HRB to get public opinion on measures in the national substance misuse strategy.

A ban on drink firms sponsoring sport and music events was backed by 42 per cent and 37 per cent of people respectively.

More than half of men and those aged under 44 were least likely to support the ban.