Home > Seanad Eireann Debate. Garda operations [Alcohol].

[Oireachtas] Seanad Eireann Debate. Garda operations [Alcohol]. (26 Sep 2013)

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The Minister has asked me to say that he fully appreciates the concerns that have been raised by the Senator. In the overall context, the Minister would like to stress that, while people are fully entitled to enjoy the Arthur's day events, personal responsibility should play an important part in the way in which they behave.


From that perspective the Minister urges everyone attending the events to drink alcohol sensibly. As we are aware, this has not always been the case in previous years and the result has been that very heavy demands have been placed on the emergency services, not to mention the personal consequences for the individuals directly involved. In particular, the Minister emphasises the need for care on the part of persons who may be driving, especially either today or tomorrow, and their responsibilities to other road users and to themselves. We are all aware of the consequences of drink-driving which has caused so many serious injuries and fatalities on our roads. Unfortunately, this has, on occasions, been the result of reckless driving by young people who have consumed large amounts of alcohol. In this context, the Minister would encourage parents of young people to urge them, not only not to drink and drive, but also not to get into a car with a driver who has been drinking.


The Minister has asked me to express his appreciation for the work done by An Garda Síochána in the policing of major events. It is often a very difficult task and at all times it is the policy of the force that the safety of the public must be the primary consideration. This will be the priority for the Garda personnel who are charged with policing the events the Senator has mentioned.


As regards my personal view, I would be very similarly disposed to the attitude the Senator has expressed. I do not believe we need specific saints of alcohol to encourage us to come out and have a go. It is a marketing event and I just hope it is not abused. As a nation we need to learn how to drink. I have made reference elsewhere to youngsters. In places where alcohol is banned or is at a prohibitively high price, there is still alcohol abuse. We need to get that balance right. I do not have a recipe as to how best to do it, except education.


Senator Averil Power: I thank the Minister. I appreciate he is responding for the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter. I am surprised, as the Minister has said, that the Department of Justice and Equality is not able to get figures from the Garda Síochána about the extra staff working tonight. I have spoken to gardaí working in different stations across Dublin city and they have said that they have them because obviously they know how many extra gardaí are working tonight. They say they need to staff the night as if it was a very busy Saturday night rather than an ordinary Thursday. I ask the Minister to ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to make an effort to seek those figures from the Garda. There is a district network there and it is not very difficult to ask the superintendent of each district to report back on the additional staff needed to be rostered to make Arthur's day safe. I note from the response the Department of Justice and Equality supplied to the Minister that the organisers of some of the events this evening have agreed to pay for the policing costs, with "some" being the key word. I ask the Minister to convey to the Minister for Justice and Equality my strong view that because this is a commercial night from which it will make significant profit, Diageo should cover the all of the costs of Arthur's day. It should also be done in a consistent way across the country. I gather considerable pressure has been put on the company by the Garda in Cork, which is why the story is on the front page of the Irish Examiner today. Gardaí have been commenting to newspapers and raising it as an issue in recent weeks and that seems to be the reason behind the response in Cork. Is the same thing happening in Dublin and in other cities?


Deputy Ruairí Quinn: I will certainly bring this debate to the attention of the Minister for Justice and Equality and his departmental officials. I suspect that the note that was prepared was written in advance of what was reported in the newspapers today. No doubt the Minister will get a report of that. I share the Senator's broad sentiments that if this is to be a recurring event, an accountancy system should be introduced to enable extraction of that cost detail relatively simply - we do not want to overload it. If there is a spike on the normal traffic coming through emergency departments in our hospitals, it should be possible to monitor that also.


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