Home > Minister addresses first all-island alcohol conference.

[Department of Health] Minister addresses first all-island alcohol conference. (26 Jan 2012)

External website: http://health.gov.ie/blog/press-release/minister-a...

Dr James Reilly, Minister for Health and Minister of State Róisín Shortall today (26th January, 2012) attended the first all-island conference on the issue of alcohol abuse held in Armagh. The conference was jointly opened by both Ministers for Health, Dr James Reilly and Mr Edwin Poots and brought together policy makers and representatives from a range of agencies on the island to explore common issues and challenges in relation to alcohol culture and alcohol abuse. The conference focused in particular on the challenges relating to alcohol and young adults.

Commenting Minster Reilly said “This conference has set the scene for a longer term, all-island collaborative approach for tackling issues relating to alcohol abuse. It makes sense to work together on an all-island basis to reduce levels of alcohol consumption in order to save lives and reduce the burden of alcohol abuse to society. The areas we would like progress on a North South basis are measures to reduce the availability of cheap alcohol, treatment and rehabilitation of those affected by alcohol misuse"

Minister Edwin Poots said “There is no doubt; alcohol misuse is one of the main threats to public health in Northern Ireland. Research has shown that it costs Northern Ireland up to £900 million every year, and almost £250 million of these costs are borne by the Health and Social Care Sector. If we do not take significant and robust action the costs to Northern Ireland, and the health and social care system in particular, will continue to grow.

“I believe that alcohol is a cultural and societal issue - one that has a significant impact on both sides of the border and indeed across the UK. It makes sense that we share common goals and ambitions and, where appropriate, work across the UK and Ireland to develop a consistent and long-term approach. Today’s conference is the perfect opportunity for us to build a consensus of common goals and to look at how we can work together most effectively to reinforce the actions already underway in each jurisdiction.”

The key objectives of the conference included:
•To broaden understanding of the impact of alcohol abuse across the island of Ireland
•To consider particular challenges relating to alcohol and young adults and our drinking culture
•To consider possible broad strategic responses
•To consider ways in which responses across the island of Ireland could be better co-ordinated.

Minister of State with responsibility for Primary Care and Drugs Strategy Róisín Shortall stated: "Alcohol use and misuse is an area where both jurisdictions can achieve a lot together - especially in dealing with the challenges that alcohol presents for young adults. I am particular concerned with the relationship Ireland has with alcohol, My Department has a report on alcohol from the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group which shall shortly be brought to Government."

At the conference expert contributions came from Sir Ian Gilmore, who chairs the UK Alcohol Health and also the European Alcohol and Health Forum Science Group; Dr Peter Anderson, an international public health consultant and expert on alcohol policy and Dr Fiona Measham, a renowned researcher in the fields of drug and alcohol use, gender, licensed leisure and the relationship between crime and culture.

The conference was jointly organised by both Departments of Health, the Institute of Public Health in Ireland, the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland and Co-operation and Working Together, the cross border health partnership.

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