Cheap drinks promotions criticised ahead of Leaving Cert results
Numerous venues across the State advertising drinks at €2 for young students
Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
A leading alcohol charity has criticised bars, pubs and nightclubs for running cheap drinks promotions for Wednesday’s Leaving Cert results night.
Alcohol Action Ireland is encouraging parents to speak to their children about the risks of alcohol consumption ahead of tomorrow’s celebrations.
It warned that many young people attending Leaving Cert events would arrive having already consumed alcohol as part of the nation’s “pre-drinking” culture. It added that there is an “obligation on all retailers - including pubs, nightclubs, convenience stores, off-licences and supermarkets - to be particularly vigilant in ensuring that they are not selling alcohol to minors”.
A quick search through Leaving Cert results parties on Facebook reveals the vast majority of venues are offering students cheap alcohol deals as a bid to attract them to event.
Wright’s Cafe Bar in Malahide is offering €2 drinks to the young people celebrating their results, while McGowans/Apollo Nightclub in Newbridge, Co Kildare has offered a €20 Leaving Cert bundle, which includes admission and five free drinks.
A spokesman for the Eventure events company which is running Wednesday’s event at Wright’s Cafe Bar defended the decision to advertise drinks promotions, saying the €2 drinks on offer had a very low percentage of alcohol. He added that there would also be more expensive drinks available at the event.
“We know that, for a significant number of young people, their plans to celebrate this week will include alcohol and this is reflected by the fact that they are being targeted by venues, particularly through social media, with drinks promotions that encourage the type of harmful alcohol consumption that is a threat to their health and wellbeing,” said Conor Cullen from Alcohol Action Ireland.
“It is also important to remember that many young people attending venues running these types of promotions will be going there having already consumed alcohol, with the widespread availability of very cheap alcohol on offer in the off-trade, particularly supermarkets, contributing greatly to the increasing prevalence of ‘pre-drinking’.”
A statement from the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said alcohol misuse among younger people was “a consequence of the irresponsible promotion and sale of alcohol by supermarkets where alcohol is used as a loss leader” without consideration of the young people consuming the drinks.
It advised students over the age of 18 to drink in a pub which is “a safe, regulated environment with professionally trained, experienced staff”.
Yvonne Rossiter from Drinkaware said parents must give their children “practical knowledge and advice” so that young people can stay safe and healthy when celebrating their results.
“The post-results celebrations do not have to be synonymous with the now expected reports about drunken teenagers spilling out of nightclubs across the country,” said Ms Rossiter. “We simply should not accept that the two go hand in hand. We should not presume that young people will drink to excess.”
President of the Union of Students in Ireland Annie Hoey said young people must maintain “an air of sensibility” and monitor the amount of alcohol they consume when celebrating their results.
“People will want to celebrate but you must be careful, monitor the amount you consume, pace yourself by drinking water between each drink to make sure you stay hydrated,” said Ms Hoey.
Ms Hoey has advised students to get plenty of sleep tonight ahead of Wednesday’s results to help reduce anxiety levels. Childline is also available for support and advice 24/7 on 1800 666 666.
Drinkaware tips on how parents and guardians should talk to their children about alcohol:
- Don‘t wait for an alcohol-related incident to happen; talk to children early and often.
- Talk openly about their plans: Who is going? Where is it? How will they get home? Will alcohol be available? When is the curfew?
- Set rules for the night together: You should both be fully aware of your rules in relation to alcohol. What are the consequences for breaking the rules?
- Engage with other parents: Talk to the parents of your child’s friends and ensure you are familiar with their rules about alcohol.
- Safety is key: Remind your child that they can call or text you if they feel unsafe or unwell at any point during the night.
- Provide an alternative to a night out: Could you host a party in your home? If so, remember that it is illegal to serve alcohol to minors and parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks.