Dáil Éireann - Volume 439 - 01 March, 1994
Written Answers. - Under-Age Drinking.
Dr. O'Hanlon Dr. O'Hanlon
183. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has to address the issue of under-age late night drinking.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin) Brendan Howlin
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): While the issue raised in the Deputy's question, in the first instance, is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Justice, alcohol misuse is always a cause for concern for me. It is particularly worrying when young people are involved. To combat problems in this area my Department, through its Health Promotion Unit, gives a high priority to educating young people about alcohol. The unit has in place a number of initiatives designed to educate in the area of alcohol misuse among young people which I have set out below.
I believe that the most effective approach to the issue of alcohol use and misuse generally, and by young people in particular, is in implementing a comprehensive national alcohol policy. Such a policy must address economic, social, cultural, legislative and educational factors relevant to alcohol use and misuse. In pursuance of this, the Deputy will be aware that the Government requested the Advisory Council on  Health Promotion to develop such a comprehensive policy. Following an intensive consultation process with relevant groups, including youth organisations, this policy has now reached final draft stage. I expect to receive the report on this policy soon. As it will deal with issues relevant to other Government Departments I will need to discuss it with my Government colleagues. But my intention is to publish it as soon as that consultative process has been completed.
The initiatives undertaken by my Department's Health Promotion Unit include: The Drink Awareness for Youth (DAY) programme. This is a combined initiative between the Health Promotion Unit and the National Youth Council of Ireland. It is a preventative programme which aims to inform and educate young people about the responsible use of alcohol and the dangers involved in its misuse. The programme has been used by youth leaders, teachers, probation officers, juvenile liaison officers, Garda recruits, FÁS and members of the Irish Countrywomen's Association. To date, over 1,000 people have attended training seminars which equip people with the skills necessary to use this resource.
The substance abuse prevention programme. This programme, for second-level schools, is a joint initiative between  the Health Promotion Unit of my Department and the psychological service of the Department of Education with support from the Mater Dei Counselling Centre and the European Commission. It enables students to develop their ability to take charge of their own health and to make informed decisions about the use of all drugs, including alcohol in their lives. Teachers are currently being trained to use this programme.
The education of parents is increasingly being highlighted as a means of influencing young people in handling alcohol issues. In conjunction with the Southern Health Board, the Health Promotion Unit has developed a pilot project on parent education on alcohol, drugs and family communication. This project recognises that young people and their parents must be provided with assistance to help them deal with the problems posed by both licit and illicit drugs. To this end, the programme focuses, not only on alcohol and other drugs, but also on the skills and personal attributes that help people deal with drug situations.
The Health Promotion Unit also provides information on alcohol, in the form of a series of three booklets relating to young people and alcohol. These booklets are directed at young people themselves, their parents or guardians, and youth leaders. They have been widely disseminated and are available free of charge from the unit.
Dáil Éireann 439 Written Answers. Under-Age Drinking.