Action needed to tackle alcohol misuse
West Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann speaking in a debate about the levels of underage drinking has called on Margaret Ritchie, Minister for Social Development 'to introduce effective measures to help combat alcohol misuse, including the clear and identifiable marking of carrier bags provided by off-licences'.
Ms McCann said:
"There has been a marked change in the patterns of drinking among young people over the past ten years. More and younger people are misusing alcohol.
"Children as young as 11 years old are drinking and Ireland as a whole has one of the highest levels of binge drinking among 15-16 year olds.
"Alcohol negatively impacts on young people. It harms them psychologically, emotionally and physically and can lead to them being involved in anti-social behaviour.
"Alcohol related crime has increased by 26% in the past year.
"At weekends large crowds of young people can be seen drinking on the streets. More vigorous use needs to be made of current legislation to curb street drinking. I believe drinking on the street should be totally banned.
"There are too many outlets selling alcohol; the number needs to be reviewed downwards and cheap drink is also too easy to obtain; drinks promotion should be controlled and a limit imposed on the amount of alcohol any one person can buy.
"There is an onus on off-licences to act responsibly when selling alcohol.
"Off-licences should be compelled legally to label their carrier bags so that those trying to combat under age drinking will be able to trace the source of the drink.
"Many people and agencies have a responsibility to tackle underage drinking: police, drinks industry, government, parents, schools and communities.
"The objective is clear - end underage drinking." ENDS