A motion at a Cork City Council meeting to write to the Minister for Justice to reduce the legal drinking age in the State to 16 has received sharp criticism from Drink Aware.
The charity, which tackles alcohol misuse, in response to the debate said alcohol has no place in childhood and underage drinking needs to be tackled.
The motion was tabled by Fine Gael councillor Shane O’Callaghan suggesting that the council should write to the minister “to request that the Government consider amending Part IV of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 (as amended) to reduce the minimum legal drinking age from 18 years of age to 16 years of age”.
CEO of Drink Aware Sheena Horgan, says there needs to be a societal change.
“Alcohol has no place in Irish childhood and we need to do everything that we can to collectively as a society, be that politicians, be it schools, be it communities, be it industry.
“We all need to pull together with regards to tackling underage drinking and changing the culture and changing the expectation.”
Cllr O’Callaghan said he believes fresh thinking is needed to tackle binge drinking among young people, and that policy makers should look to Europe for creative solutions to Ireland's underage drinking problem.
“It’s legal to purchase beer or wine in Germany at 16, but it isn’t legal to purchase spirits until you turn 18.
“It’s a gradual introduction to less harmful drinks first, where as here the opposite is the case, there is no gradual approach its all illegal until you are 18 and interestingly as I said by far the most popular drink for 17-year-olds is spirits not beer.”