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Teen disco's 'drunk room' wins support

A decision by the organisers of a popular under-age disco to set up a "wet zone" for inebriated children has been described as proactive by a leading campaigner for responsible alcohol consumption.

The Old Wesley disco in Dublin has recently introduced a "drunk tank" where teenagers aged 14 to 16 found to have consumed alcohol are supervised and medically assessed.

Red Cross workers at the Donnybrook venue often find themselves looking after up to six schoolchildren at a time.

They say the facility allows them to keep the young people "off the streets" while their parents are contacted.

Fionnuala Sheehan, chief executive of the Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol Society (MEAS), said the organisers of the disco at Old Wesley Rugby Football Club should be commended for taking a proactive approach.

She said that while anecdotal evidence suggested a decline in under-age drinking, it remains a serious problem.

"What the disco is doing is a good thing," she said. "They're seeking to address a situation, it's a proactive measure."

ALERT

However, Don Myers, president of the National Parents Council representing parents of post-primary students, said the disco should not 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 said.

"It shouldn't have come to this. We are parents and we need to be more alert and tuned-in to what's going on.

"You can get up all these things to counteract it, but they shouldn't be leaving it to other people. There's an onus on parents to be responsible."

Organisers of the disco stress that it is an alcohol-free event, but they cannot control the actions of young people before they arrive or after they leave.

Promoter Donie Bolger said: "The kids call it the drunk room, but we call it a medical room. You may have four, five or six in there. They're checked by the Red Cross, assessed and then the parents are phoned.

"They're not allowed out of the medical room until the parents arrive. Many parents thank us for having that facility."

hnews@herald.ie


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