Students warned over drink danger

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ÁINE McMAHON in The Irish Times

LEAVING CERT students have been told to enjoy alcohol responsibly when they celebrate their results tonight.

A number of events for Leaving Cert students will be held in pubs and nightclubs around the country, although a percentage of students are under the legal age for drinking alcohol.

An appeal for greater vigilance in the sale of alcohol to young people has been launched by Drink Aware is an initiative funded by alcohol manufacturers, distributors and trade associations. Those selling alcohol have been reminded to check identification and serve only those aged over 18 years.

Parents are encouraged to play influential and supportive roles regarding their child ’s drinking behaviour by leading by example, discussing the topic of alcohol openly and setting out clear rules for them.

Drink Aware says that since 2007 it has become easier for students to gain access to alcohol in Ireland. According to the 2011 European School Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs survey, the perceived availability of alcohol in Ireland among 16-year-olds remains above the European average.

Fionnuala Sheehan, chief executive of, said,  “The 2011 research points to the need for greater vigilance by both on- and off-trade licensees in Ireland as many Leaving Cert students plan to celebrate their achievement in the next few days.

 “Not all Leaving Cert students are of legal drinking age and a significant percentage of Irish 16-year-olds reported purchasing alcohol in both on- and off-trade premises. ”

Fiona Ryan, director of Alcohol Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, said,  “The Leaving Cert can be an emotional time for those getting results and adding alcohol into an emotional mix can bring its own challenges, as alcohol increases emotional volatility and impacts on ability to make decisions. ”

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland highlighted the dangers of binge-drinking and increased vulnerability to sexual attacks.

 “Young people who binge-drink are at a high risk of engaging in risky sexual practices, and being a perpetrator or victim of sexual violence, ” said Clíona Saidléar, the network ’s policy director.

 “Research shows that between 2000 and 2004, one-third of those accused of rape in Ireland were under the age of 25 and half of rape complainants during this period were also under 25; 76 per cent of all rape defendants were also found to have been drinking at the time of the alleged rape. ”