Young Irish high on drugs and booze and vandalism are a disgrace


Again, you can see it on YouTube if you search for Irish Teens Start Rave in Howth.   The teens have taken over the pier, and two police patrol cars who arrived can do nothing about it. 

The short video does not communicate how threatening it was later on, and it's hard to see the bottles and the drugs. But people who passed the pier at the time say that a large number of teens were completely out of their skulls.  There were fights breaking out and there were reported stabbings. 

The common link in these two incidents -- and in others like them around the country over the past week -- is the amount of booze involved (these youngsters can down a bottle of spirits no problem) and the way this behavior always emerges whenever we get a few days of good weather.  It's like mass teen hysteria brought on by the sun. 

The next day, of course, a massive clean-up is needed.  Because the Irish kids are not just drunks, they are drunken pigs who leave litter, bottles and all kinds of crap all over the place.  They treat wherever they are like it was a garbage dump.  

No one seems to know what to do about the booze problem here, which is getting worse, not better, particularly among the young Irish.  If anyone foreign (like the Brits or the Yanks) calls us drunks we go crazy and say it's racial stereotyping and we demand apologies. 

Well, that doesn't apply to me because I'm Irish and I can tell the truth as I see it.   And what I saw over the weekend makes it clear to me that we Irish have a serious drink problem. 

The present government has been trying to do something, but knowing exactly what to do is far from easy.  Minimum pricing?  Age limits?  Health warnings?  Education campaigns? 

Finding a solution that will be effective but still allow responsible people to drink in moderation seems almost impossible. 

The last junior minister for health here (before she fell out with the minister) was Labor politician Roisin Shortall, who took a strong line and bluntly said that as a nation "we need to reduce the amount of alcohol that we drink.”

The cheap and easy availability of alcohol happened in recent years and is a big factor, she said, referring to the way Irish supermarkets sell booze at rock bottom prices to get customers into stores. Some kinds of booze (beer, cider) are now often cheaper than bottled water. 

But her efforts to do something were stymied by the powerful alcohol lobby which so far has managed to stop efforts to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.

She said that alcohol puts huge pressure on the health system and costs us nearly €4 billion a year in hospital costs, alcohol-related crime, missed days at work, inefficiency and so on. 

Then there are all the things that are impossible to cost, like the damage done to the kids of alcohol addicted parents who are too out of it to look after them. 

Official figures released by Shortall last year showed that per head of population we’re drinking almost 12 liters of alcohol a year, equivalent to a bottle of spirits a week per person over 15.  (In comparison, the figure for the U.S. is about 8 liters per head.) 

Shortall's role is now being handled by someone else, but we still have to see real action.  It's not going to be easy because of the power of the alcohol lobby and how ingrained alcohol is in Irish society. 

In particular youth drinking is a huge problem, with the young Irish having one of the highest levels of drunkenness in Europe.  One theory on how to tackle this involves limiting alcohol advertising and visibility.

Shortall had proposed that all drinks sponsorship of sports events should be phased out over the next 10 years.  But this will leave a huge funding gap in sports budgets and no one knows how to fill it.

Meanwhile, the alcohol industry is campaigning against such a restriction. 

It's all about getting the young Irish to buy into responsible drinking instead of feeling that the only point in drinking is getting out of your head as fast as possible.  Maybe then they will stop disgracing us as a nation, not only at home but in places where the young Irish have emigrated to like the U.K., the U.S. and Australia.