Gerry Adams launches Community Off-Sales initiative
Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Gerry Adams this morning helped launch the Community Off-Sales initiative aimed at reducing the availability of alcohol to young people.
Speaking after the event Mr. Adams said:
"I wholeheartedly support the launch of today's initiative by the Falls Community Council and FASA (Forum for Action on Substance Abuse - Shankill Rd- based).
"I also welcome the support of all those off-licences who have come on board with the scheme. There is a major responsibility on all those who sell alcohol within our communities to support this initiative.
"The Community Off-sales Initiative was first launched 6 years ago in response to a growing concern about the sale of alcohol to young people. The initiative established voluntary criteria which the off-sales agreed to abide by and which were intended to make it more difficult for young people to purchase alcohol.
"However, in recent times there has been a marked increase in the number of young people accessing alcohol and the anti-social problems associated with this are also on the increase.
"The re-launch of the initiative is a response to the present widespread concern from within local communities across north and west Belfast at the rise in alcohol abuse, particularly among young people. I commend these communities in coming together to give leadership on this issue.
"It is right and essential that communities are at the centre of such initiatives. Those who sell alcohol in an irresponsible way should find it as no surprise that the community will empower itself to address this issue. It is local communities who are left to deal with the consequences of such irresponsible and anti-social behaviour.
"This initiative is also set in the context of the proposed liberalising of the licensing laws.
"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the proposed relaxing of the laws around the sale of alcohol which will see shops, supermarkets and other retail outlets selling alcohol. Sinn Fein has produced a comprehensive policy which among other positions opposes any extension of opening hours for the sale of alcohol, seeks the introduction of a strict code of conduct, the annual renewal of licences, and a programme of education and information aimed particularly at the young.
"The welfare of children, young people and families must come before the profits of the alcohol industry or the revenue income from alcohol sales.
"Finally let me once again applaud and endorse the efforts of the Falls Community Council, FASA and those off-sales who have committed to this initiative and I would appeal to all of those off-licences, pubs and clubs which sell alcohol and have not so far come on board to abide by off-sales initiative proposals and to work with the community in tackling this serious problem." ENDS