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Gardaí seized alcohol in public places 354 times last year

Garda sources said one of the biggest problems is with under-aged teens drinking in parks or in the street.

Image: drinking in public via Shutterstock

THERE WERE 354 seizures of alcohol in public places last year, a drop on the previous year when more than 480 of these incidents were recorded.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said in response to a parliamentary question that the estimated monetary value of alcohol seized in 2011 and 2012 is €60,516 and €20,463, respectively.

While there is no national legislation prohibiting drinking alcohol in public each local authority can pass bye-laws restricting the consumption of alcohol in public areas.

Under new legislation introduced in 2008, gardaí were also given tougher public order powers, including allowing officers to seize alcohol from minors and issue fixed penalties for public order offences.

Garda sources have said the majority of these seizures are from under-aged drinkers and during or to prevent public order incidents.

One garda source said teens aged 14 to 16 were a “huge problem”, drinking in the evening and causing public order incidents at night.

Many of these incidents involve large groups of youths gathering in parks, playgrounds or in the street to drink.

Another big problem is with homeless people drinking in the street, a source said, with some “hassling people”.

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“In general you have people turning up in the same spots, they’ve had public order issues in the past and you know once he gets steamed up he’ll cause trouble so you’ll move him on, confiscate the alcohol, before a public order situation can arise,” they explained.

Though we wouldn’t recommend it, sources said an adult walking down the street drinking a can of beer and not causing any trouble, would be much less likely to be approached by gardaí than those fitting into the categories above.

While they said the current powers they have are adequate, they said that it would be “easier”  for enforcement if there was specific legislation in place rather than different bye-laws in each individual local authority area.

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