Planning to get to grips with alcohol in Listowel

Tadhg Evans

A study carried out in the Listowel area has found that some 50 per cent of those surveyed occasionally drink to hazardous levels - but experts say Listowel's alcohol usage statistics are generally in line with national drinking habits.

Dr Martin Daveron, an epidemiology and public health researcher at UCC, revealed the aforementioned result and more this week in Listowel Community Centre at the launch of an alcohol action plan for Listowel.

More than 50 people attended the launch. There, they heard details of Dr Daveron's research, posed questions, and watched interesting artistic and video productions based on the topics at hand. North Kerry literary legend Gabriel Fitzmaurice appeared as a special guest on the night.

Dr Daveron's findings were drawn from a survey carried out in autumn of last year on some 350 people in the area. The results have been used to guide the local alcohol action plan, which aims to reduce alcohol harm in the locality over the next two years.

The study found that the highest consumers of alcohol in Listowel are those between the ages of 18 and 24. Over 40 per cent of respondents said they consider an individual in their life to be a heavy drinker.

Almost 65 per cent supported banning of price promotions in outlets, while similar numbers described under-age drinking as a problem locally and said advertising targeting young people should be banned.

In 2016, the Cork and Kerry Alcohol Strategy Group chose Listowel as one of three pilot towns for its Regional Alcohol Strategy 2016-2018, and Listowel's involvement in this strategy led to the formation of the plan launched this week.

"We chose three medium-sized communities in Cork and Kerry as pilot towns in 2016, Listowel being one of them," HSE South Drug and Alcohol Services Co-ordinator David Lane said.

"The results we got from this survey largely correspond with what we've seen elsewhere in the country, but the results have guided the plan that's been launched for Listowel this week," he added. "We look forward to repeating the survey in 2018 to see how this plan has progressed."

The 2016-formed Listowel Community Action on Alcohol (LCAA), which is made up a number of agencies and community representatives, will oversee the plan's implementation locally. "I'd like to thank everyone who attended and contributed," LCAA Chairperson David Twomey said.

"We were lucky to showcase the very topical and effective play 'Billy's Choice', written and produced by Peadar O'Donoghue.

"It was equally great to see the excellent video by 2015 BT Young Scientist winners Eimear Murphy and Ian O'Sullivan on the links between the drinking habits of parents and their teenage children.

"With co-operation between the relevant groups in the locality, we hope to tackle alcohol harm in Listowel by targeting three key areas: supply and access to alcohol; education around alcohol harm with an eye to prevention; and improving our screening, treatment and rehabilitation services," Mr Twomey added.

"The LCAA aims to raise awareness and reduce alcohol harm in this area by supporting local people to be part of a local solution.

"We'll have further meeting in the times ahead, and once scheduled the public is welcome."

Kerryman

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