Home > Special initiative: working together to reduce the harms caused by alcohol misuse.

Long, Jean (2006) Special initiative: working together to reduce the harms caused by alcohol misuse. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 19, Autumn 2006, p. 25.

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Sustaining Progress, the agreement between Government and the social partners set out ten special initiatives to be progressed in its lifetime; these were issues that required ‘mobilisation of a range of resources across sectors, organisations, and individuals, and at different levels of government’. One of the issues selected was alcohol and drug misuse.

To progress this special initiative, the Working Group on Alcohol Misuse was established in July 2005. The Group was chaired by Peter Cassells and included representatives from six government departments, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, IBEC, the Health Service Executive, An Garda Síochána and a number of youth groups. The Group also consulted with relevant stakeholders not directly represented. The aim of the Group was to agree on a programme of actions to deliver targeted results in relation to the three specific areas of underage drinking, harmful (binge) drinking and drink driving. It concentrated on the potential for effectively mobilising State and other organisations and the social partners around a programme of actions that would contribute to a reduction in alcohol misuse.

While the Group considered the three specific areas, its final report1 sets out a single strategy containing 29 actions under 11 headings, as follows:

Local community responses

·       Establish at least four community mobilisation projects2 by the end of 2006.

Treatment intervention services

·       Set up one pilot screening and brief intervention project in each of the community mobilisation project areas by the end of 2006.

·       Develop a national screening and brief intervention protocol for appropriate healthcare settings by the end of 2007.

·       Prepare an extended early intervention plan for the existing juvenile liaison scheme by the end of 2006.

·       Examine the benefits and potential of mandatory alcohol awareness and rehabilitation programmes for those convicted of drink-driving offences; the plan will be prepared by the end of 2006.

·       Examine the feasibility of developing counselling services for those affected by drink-driving accidents by the end of 2007.

Awareness and education interventions

·       Continue the roll-out and development of the Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum in schools, with special emphasis on the community mobilisation project areas.

·       Develop appropriate education initiatives in out-of-school settings.

·       Increase parents’ awareness of alcohol use among children through the provision of appropriate information, such as the booklet Straight Talking, during 2006.

·       Train community and youth workers on alcohol issues, using the Code of Ethics which will be published in 2006 by the National Youth Work Advisory Committee. The training will be implemented in 2007.

·       Enhance local road safety initiatives in co-operation with local communities during 2006 and 2007.

·       Increase public awareness within communities on the harms associated with alcohol use through media campaigns from 2006 to 2010.

Alternative facilities

·       Develop and promote at least one alcohol-free recreation facility in each of the community mobilisation project areas by early 2007.

·       Involve young people in the management structure and day-to-day management of the facilities by early 2007.

·       Promote responsible approaches to alcohol by sporting organisations at local level from 2006 onwards.

Compliance and enforcement

·       Support more visible enforcement and compliance with liquor licensing legislation in each of the community mobilisation project areas in 2006 and 2007.

·       Promote responsible serving and trading programmes in each of the community mobilisation project areas in 2006 and 2007.

·       Improve the security details for the Garda National Age Card by 2007 in order to reduce forgery.


·       Develop guidelines to facilitate the development of alcohol misuse policies for the workplace in 2006.

Below-cost selling

·       Prohibit below-cost selling of alcohol by March 2006.


·       Develop a code of practice with the off-trade sector and legislation to address specific areas of concern by the end of 2007

Alcohol advertising

·       Propose additional representation from the social partners on the monitoring body for the Voluntary Code on Advertising. The proposal will be considered in 2006.

Drink driving

·       Introduce random breath testing.

·       Reduce the blood alcohol level from 0.8mg% to 0.5mg%.

·       Keep under review the question of setting lower blood alcohol level for provisional drivers.

·       Promote high visibility enforcement of traffic laws.

·       Introduce administrative alternative to court (though disqualification should remain a deterrent).

·       Restructure provisions to ensure that the period of disqualification for a drink-driving offence cannot be reduced on appeal.


·       Establish a group to consider the information to be included on the labels of non-draft alcohol products in 2006.

This report does not give details of budget provision for the implementation of any of these actions and, while it suggests some possible sources of support and mentions monitoring arrangements, it makes no clear commitment to ensuring that the actions are completed.

1.    Sustaining Progress Special Initiative: working together to reduce the harms caused by alcohol misuse (2006) https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/23485/

2.    The authors describe community mobilisation projects (CMPs) as a comprehensive response involving a wide range of individuals, agencies and organisations which come together when an issue is too big for one sector to tackle alone.

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