Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher has suggested raising the legal age to buy alcohol in off-licences to 21 as a way to cut the level of young people binge drinking.
Kelleher brought the idea forward at a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Health meeting with Prof Frank Murray to scrutinize the Heads of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.
A common theme throughout the discussion concerned younger people buying cheap alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences, and drinking unsupervised at home or on the streets rather than in the social environment of the pub.
"Previously, when people started drinking at an early age, it was under some form of collective supervision either in a pub environment where there was bar staff or other people – so you were doing it in a very public forum, but that has changed dramatically," Kelleher commented.
Kelleher raised the issue of 18 year olds buying alcohol legally, but going on to share it with underage peers. He put forward the idea of restricting off-licence sales to those over 21, but keeping 18 as the legal age to buy alcohol in pubs.
"An 18-year-old can go into any off-licence and legally buy as much alcohol as they like. That 18-year-old's friend is 16 and his girlfriend is 14, so very quickly within the one peer group, they're drinking illegally obviously, but also dangerously."
© 2015 - Checkout Magazine by Jenny Whelan.