Junior Cert celebrations should not involve alcohol

“It’s natural that students who are getting their Junior Cert results today want to have a good time and celebrate with their friends. This is an important milestone for them and they should enjoy the celebrations,” said Suzanne Costello, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland.

“However, these celebrations should not involve alcohol and there is a real and immediate obligation on alcohol retailers – pubs, nightclubs, supermarkets, shops and off-licenses – to ensure that they are not selling alcohol to people under the age of 18.

“The most recent European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) survey found that young people in Ireland are more likely to binge drink than their European counterparts and 84% of Irish 15 and 16-year-olds also reported that alcohol was ’very easy’ or ’fairly easy’ to get. A quarter of 15 and 16-year-olds had purchased alcohol from an off-license or supermarket while 37% had been served in a pub or nightclub.

“The relentless promotion of cheap, widely available alcohol is fuelling our culture of binge drinking, which is such a threat to young people’s health and wellbeing. The legal drinking age is 18 for very good reasons. Alcohol use is a serious risk to children and young people’s health and well-being, due largely to the fact that they are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than adults as their bodies and brains are still developing.

“Far from being a rite of passage, drinking alcohol may well serve to delay the development of vital coping skills, immediately project young people into risky situations and lay the ground-work for future mental and physical health difficulties.

“We are also urging parents to talk openly with their children about what their plans are for the evening and make sure they know all the important details, such as what they will be doing, who they will be with   where they are going and how – and at what times – they plan on getting there and coming home.

“It is also important to let your child know they can call you without fear of recrimination if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point. They need to know that, as parents their safety is your priority and that they are to contact you immediately if they are in trouble.”