Leaving Cert: Parents told to warn about the danger of cheap booze
An alcohol charity has pleaded with parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drinking, ahead of tomorrow's highly anticipated Leaving Certificate results celebrations.
Alcohol Action Ireland has warned students are particularly at risk this year because cans of beer are now cheaper than bottles of water.
A spokesperson with the charity for alcohol-related issues said it wanted to emphasise the need for parents and guardians to play a strong role in their children's celebrations.
The charity believes Ireland has "a problem with binge drinking" that comes from older generations.
"The age of first drinking has decreased in Ireland. It is moving further in to childhood, when people begin to drink. And, we also know that children in Ireland and young people have a particular problem with binge drinking and that is not unique to them.
"That is at every age group in Ireland, as a country we have a problem with binge drinking," said Conor Cullen, head of communications and advocacy with Alcohol Action Ireland.
"It is not about pointing the finger at young people and telling them they are terrible, because they are not. They are reflecting the behaviour of generations that have gone before them. Three people die every day from alcohol-related illnesses in this country. That is a huge amount of lives lost unnecessarily every year."
Mr Cullen said the charity was making its strongest ever appeal this year because the "price, availability and marketing" of alcohol has made it more appealing to young people.
"Young people are strongly influenced by the price of alcohol.
"They want to pay as little as they can for strong, cheap alcohol. They can do that now.
"Cans of beer cost less than bottles of water," he added. "It is why pre-drinking has become such a phenomenon."
The body believes there is a "real and immediate obligation on alcohol retailers" tomorrow to ensure they do not sell alcohol to minors and to make efforts to avoid targeting young people with "cheap drinks promotions that encourage binge drinking".
Suzanne Costello, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland, said parents should talk to their children about where they are going and who they are celebrating with.
The organisation also issued advice to students, the majority of whom are aged between 17 and 18, to plan their evening in advance and to respect their friends' decisions in relation to their own personal alcohol intake.