A DECISION by a popular under-age disco to set up a "wet zone" for inebriated children has been described as "pro-active" by a leading campaigner for responsible alcohol consumption.
The Old Wesley disco in Dublin has recently introduced a "drunk tank" where teenagers -- mostly aged 16 and under -- found to have consumed alcohol, are supervised and medically assessed.
The well-known venue said that the Red Cross workers at the Donnybrook venue often found themselves looking after up to six schoolchildren at a time.
Fionnuala Sheehan, chief executive of the Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) group, said that organisers of the disco at the Old Wesley Rugby Football Club were to be commended for taking a "pro-active" approach. She said that while anecdotal evidence suggested a decline in underage drinking, it remained a serious problem.
"I think it's an effort (by the disco organisers) and that there is a plan in place to address it. I think it's a good thing," she told the Irish Independent. "They're seeking to address a situation, it's a pro-active measure."
However, Don Myers, president of the National Parents Council, representing parents of post-primary students, said that the disco shouldn't have to provide such facilities.
"They're under the care of their parents and parents need to be aware of what they're up to," he told the Irish Independent. "It shouldn't have come to this. We are parents and we need to be more alert and tuned in to what is going on around us," he said.
Organisers of the disco stressed that it was an alcohol-free event but they could not control the actions of young people before they arrived.
Promoter Donie Bolger said: "The kids call it the drunk room, but we call it a medical room. They're checked by the Red Cross, assessed, and then the parents are phoned immediately.
"They're not allowed out of the medical room until parents arrive. Many parents thank us profusely," he added.