Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 262 - Underage drinking [17554/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 262 - Underage drinking [17554/15]. (06 May 2015)

262. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding underage drinking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17554/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The position is that there are robust statutory provisions in place relating to the sale to and the consumption of intoxicating liquor by persons under the age of 18 years. The law in this area was most recently amended by the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 which amended the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2004 and the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 with the aim of reducing access to alcohol and at the same time strengthening measures to tackle public disorder and antisocial behaviour.


Under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 (as amended), it is an offence for a licence holder to sell or deliver, or permit another person to sell or deliver, intoxicating liquor to a person under 18 years of age.


Under the 1988 Act it is also illegal for a person under 18 years to buy intoxicating liquor or to consume it in any place outside their home (or in another person's home where they are present by right or with permission). Where a Garda suspects that a person is under 18 years and that that person, or anyone accompanying that person, is in possession of intoxicating liquor for the purpose of consuming it in a place other than a private dwelling, the Garda may seek an explanation and if not satisfied with the reply, he or she may seize the intoxicating liquor if it is not handed over voluntarily.


The Garda National Age Card scheme is an important mechanism to help verify age in relation to the sale of intoxicating liquor. The scheme is administered by An Garda Síochána and has facilitated Gardaí, in cooperation with the licensed trade, in addressing and combating the problem of underage drinking. The 1988 Act, as amended, also makes provision for the test purchasing of intoxicating liquor. The primary objective of the scheme is to enable the Gardaí to target licensed premises which are suspected of engaging in illegal sales of intoxicating liquor to persons under 18 years of age.


The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 (as amended) also permits An Garda Síochána to seize bottles or containers containing intoxicating liquor where there is a reasonable apprehension of public disorder or damage to property and require a person to leave the place concerned in a peaceable and orderly manner. Incidents of public disorder and anti-social behaviour arising from the abuse of intoxicating liquor reported to the Gardaí are the subject of investigation and dealt with appropriately, including by juvenile or adult caution, fixed charge penalty notices or commencement of criminal proceedings.


The Children Act 2001, as amended, also provides for a number of measures in relation to parental responsibility in the case of children involved in anti-social behaviour and children found guilty of offences. These include parental supervision and compensation orders. These measures are fully operational and available to the courts. It should be noted, however, that the imposition of any particular sanction on the parents or guardians of an offending child is a matter for the courts.

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