'Very young' children being admitted drunk
Very young children are being admitted to Sligo University Hospital in a drunk state.
That's according to local paediatricians who spoke about the issue with Professor Frank Murray at a conference in the hospital last Friday.
"One of the paediatricians here said that they're seeing very young children admitted to the hospital here, and even the Intensive Care Unit with the toxic effects of alcohol," Professor Murray told The Sligo Champion.
He described the problem with children drinking here as "shocking" and "one of the worst in the Western World."
" By the age of 15/16/17 years, half of children have been very drunk in Ireland, which is a shocking statistic, about a quarter of drinking have started drinking by the time they're 13.
"Those figures are a terrible indictment of our society, they're a terrible indictment of us as parents and of our schools.
"I think in many ways parents and schools are not able to cope with the tidal wave of alcohol that is going towards children.
The liver consultant at Beaumont believes more could be done at a local community level to prevent under-age drinking.
"I think it's hard as an individual parent to do something. I think we should think about a programme in schools whereby parents and the school approach the problem similarly and in an area.
"If you look at me as a parent, I really was, I think, quite poor at managing my children's wish to drink when they were going up.
"In retrospect I'd be much more smart about it now. I think that schools should be intolerant of children's drinking and parents should not begin children's drinking at home.
"A lot of people think they should introduce their children to alcohol at home when they're in their mid-teens.
"That's been shown to be a bad idea. The later children start drinking, the better it is for children. The earlier they start drinking, the more likely they are to drink heavily and to have a problem with alcohol.
"We should be clear about that in our minds. If we do that just as an individual it's quite difficult to implement but I think if we had a programme across the parish or the Gaelic club or the school it would be a good step forward.
"There are things that can be done within a community that can help in relation to that,"he added.