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April 4, 2003

EIRE: Minister pledges drinks clampdown

The Irish Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, has pledged to tighten up the country's drinking legislation following a report from an advisory commission.

The Irish Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, has pledged to tighten up the country’s drinking legislation following a report from an advisory commission.

The report from the government-appointed Commission on Liquor Licensing, which was prompted by mounting concern about rising alcohol-related offences, makes some 130 recommendations, mapping out strategies for reform.

McDowell identified binge drinking as a particular and growing problem. “Young people are going out regularly to get plastered. That seems to be a social activity,” he said, adding that he agreed “wholeheartedly” with the commission’s suggestion that pub promotions which lead to excessive consumption should be prohibited.

McDowell was also sympathetic to the commission’s suggestion that under-18s being allowed in pubs, even if not drinking alcohol, was also causing problems. He said he was planning to ban under 18s from pubs from about 7pm or 8pm onwards.

The commission has also criticised the development of so-called “superpubs”. These largescale outlets have been opened in recent years as alcohol consumption and leisure spending has been fuelled by Ireland’s strong economic growth. McDowell said that smaller pubs would provide an “atmosphere and ambience that encourages moderate social consumption of alcohol rather than excessive consumption and binge-drinking that has become so common in recent years.”

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