A SENIOR consultant has expressed widespread alarm at the "party culture" which she says is playing a major factor in the number of young people suffering brain injuries.
Dr Jacinta McElligott, who works in Dublin's National Rehabilitation Hospital, has spoken of the "horrendous hardship" experienced by assault victims and their families.
Dr McElligott revealed that she has seen "lives ruined" as a direct result of accidents and assaults and warned that young men have suffered some of the most serious brain injuries she has encountered.
And the consultant expressed serious concern at the level of violence on our streets, adding: "Ireland's party culture is quite alarming."
Her comments come as city gardai grapple with a spate of assaults and attacks plaguing the streets of the capital.
City representatives say it is only a "matter of time" before someone is killed as drink-fuelled revellers turn violent. Dr McElligott has treated people with brain and spinal injuries in the US and Ireland.
She said: "The majority of patients we're dealing with are young people -- in their late teens and early 20s. This is particularly worrying as it means that in some cases, people who are so young are having the rest of their lives impacted upon.
"While the majority of young people who suffer brain injuries in our hospital are as a result of road traffic accidents, a significant number need rehabilitation as a result of an assault or attack.
"Most of these are young men. The effects on these young people and their families are just devastating.
"As a doctor, it's heartbreaking at times -- it's incredibly sad seeing lives impacted upon in this way and injuries like this puts an incredible burden on families."
While Dr McElligott said that Ireland is not the only country to suffer from a drink culture, she warned alcohol and drugs are directly linked to young people suffering brain injuries.
"I see people who have got involved in fights, those who have been victims of the party culture, alcohol and drug use is a significant factor in causing brain injury and it's extremely alarming that we're seeing so many violent incidents.
"When young people reach a stage where they are completely over consumed on alcohol they are posing risks to themselves and people around them."
The National Rehabilitation Hospital caters for people who suffer brain, spinal chord and prosthetic injuries."