Sunday 23 April 2017

Irish teens 'drinking alcohol out of oranges and hairbrushes' - TD

Alcohol Action Ireland is encouraging parents to warn teenagers about the dangers posed by excessive alcohol consumption
Alcohol Action Ireland is encouraging parents to warn teenagers about the dangers posed by excessive alcohol consumption

Kathy Armstrong

A universal approach is needed to tackle underage drinking as Irish teens resort to sneaking alcohol into hairbrush handles and injecting it into oranges, TD Anne Rabbitte has said.

Deputy Rabbitte said that there are not enough opportunities to help teenagers in Ireland to have fun in an alcohol-free environment.

The Galway East representative told Independent.ie:  "I'm no different to any other parent, I just happen to be in a prime position where I can bring these issues to the Dáil to discuss the issues happening in the real world.

"It's a problem for parents and pressure on teenagers, it's a concern out there.

"The 'in thing' at the moment is injecting oranges with alcohol, freezing them and then segmenting them up as you get nearer to the disco.

"The other one is getting a round tube-shaped hairbrush that comes apart and putting vodka or whatever into that.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson Anne Rabbitte
Fianna Fáil spokesperson Anne Rabbitte

"I'm talking about 14, 15 or 16 year olds, not 18-year-olds, these are underage discos with the hairbrushes going into the handbags.

"People don't celebrate how we might have celebrated, but it can be like putting on a show of how much alcohol you've had after an exam or after the mocks, it's like a trophy drawer of alcohol, it's shocking," she added.

The Fianna Fáil Spokeswoman on Children - who is a mum to two teenagers herself - said there's an onus on society to try to prevent minors from starting to drink and ensuring those who do are safe.

She said: "I think it's a universal responsibility - there's the role of the parent, the role of the proprietor, community policing and education.

"I would like to see more vigilance, more Garda presence around discos, I would love to see Gardai going into discos.

"As a parent I would like to know if there's children in there who have had alcohol and are waiting on their parents, how are they treated and how are they minded? These are serious questions."

Read More: The realities of being 17 in Ireland in 2017

She said that there are not enough options for teens in many parts of the country who want to go on nights out sober.

She said: "There are not enough alternatives, we can we have as much sport as we want but it's social activities in the line of discos.

"Kids need the opportunity to go and enjoy themselves and socialise in an alcohol-free environment without any pressure.

"We have to give them the chance to grow up in an environment that's fun and they can have the opportunity to get dressed up and learn what it's like to go out after nine o'clock, to know the risks and implications and express themselves.

"I cannot praise activities the likes of Foróige and No Name Club discos enough but there's not one in every medium-sized town in the country, maybe there is in Dublin but outside of the M50 there are very little opportunities."

Read More: 300 bottles of alcohol seized after large crowd of underage drinkers spotted partying and urinating in public

Research shows that one in five pupils in fifth year is drinking alcohol weekly. Picture posed
Research shows that one in five pupils in fifth year is drinking alcohol weekly. Picture posed

Deputy Rabbitte said "parents should support teenagers" and it's important to discuss underage drinking.

She explained: "There's a statistic out there that say if you have 100 kids going into First Year, by the end of that year 5-10 will be drinking, not dabbling but drinking.

"By the time they get to Second Year this number rises to 25 and in Third Year 50pc of that classroom is drinking, in fourth  Year it jumps again to over 60pc.

"By the time you get into Leaving Cert on average just 5pc of teenagers don't drink.

"We have a huge problem and we're not discussing it, I'm not trying to finger point but I want to start that conversation."

She said that she would love to speak to teenagers themselves and get their views on alcohol.

She said: "I'd love to go into schools and talk to teenagers, we need their engagement and what they have to say.

"Who's listening to teenagers and giving them a chance to speak?"

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