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Half of pubs and off-licenses targeted for underage drinking checks were in Dublin

Just more than 1,200 have been carried out over the past three years.

Image: Shutterstock/Claudio Divizia

Updated 7.29am

GARDAÍ ARE MORE likely to check if pubs or off-licenses in Dublin are selling alcohol to people under 18 than others in the rest of country.

Figures released to Independent TD Tommy Broughan have revealed that between the start of 2012 up until October 2014, a total of 1,237 test purchases were carried out.

However, more than half (681) of these were in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, roughly equivalent to Co Dublin with a population of roughly 1.3 million, out of Ireland’s total 4.6 million.

Under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, gardaí are able to target licensed premises who are suspected of engaging in illegal sales of alcohol to young people.

“The frequency at which test purchases take place is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána, having regard to those objects of the scheme and policing needs nationally,” Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said in her reply to the Deputy.

Too late

While welcoming that gardaí are utilising the legislation, the CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland told TheJournal.ie if young people are drinking in pubs or buying alcohol, it’s already too late.

“It’s a little bit too late in the whole process,” Suzanne Costello said. “While it is important to ensure that children are not being sold alcohol, this is a downstream approach.”

“It is natural curiosity, but it’s very important we get the message across of the health impacts of drinking. A complete, comprehensive approach is needed,” she explained, suggesting that even information needs to be provided to ensure teenagers can make ‘informed decisions about their health’.

There’s not a proper understanding that the age limit on drinking is for health reasons, and it’s not some hangover from an oppressive era.

Costello added that advertising is still a huge factor in underage drinking.

“It’s not targetted at them, but they’re not blind,” she said, noting the ‘Christmassy’ feel of many ads at this time of year.

Column: Have a Hoppy Christmas! Some beers to try over the festive season… >

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Nicky Ryan

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