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Leading charity calls for minimum price for alcohol to be set

The current government’s approach to the pricing and regulation of alcohol is leading to a “disjointed” message on a serious public health issue that is affecting thousands of children, according to a leading charity.

Image: Johnny Green/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A LEADING ALCOHOL awareness charity has called on the country’s political parties to commit to tackling alcohol-related problems affecting children and young people.

Irish teenagers have “a major problem with drunkenness” says Director of Alcohol Action Ireland Fiona Ryan, she added that alcohol has the potential to impact young people’s lives in two ways: firstly in terms of their own consumption, and secondly in terms of their parents’ alcohol problems.

It is estimated that 61,000 to 104,000 children across the country under the age of 15 live with a parent who has a drinking problem.

“The vast majority of these children suffer in silence, their plight either unheard or ignored,” Ryan said, “The next government needs to take a serious look at the extent and impact of parental alcohol problems on children. Denial isn’t good enough anymore.”

Ryan described the government’s current alcohol policies as “disjointed”, saying that while it is acknowledged that alcohol-related harm is a serious public health issue, the seriousness of the message it diluted through pricing and regulation policies that encourage the availability of alcohol at relatively cheap prices.

Alcohol Action Ireland wants the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol as well as tighter restrictions on promotions: “Alcohol is a controlled substance and we act as if it’s a grocery,” said Ryan, “It is fuelling a health and wellbeing crisis of which children – and young people are the first casualties.”

Read also: One in four Irish teens admits to binge drinking >

And: Alcohol and cigarette levies would send trade away, says Lenihan >

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