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Who drove young people to drinking in the fields?
The tragic death of Caolan Mulrooney resulted in a humane call from his father Eugene on Morning Ireland that we need to help young people to drink safely.
The Whole Hog, 23 May 2012
They were in the taxi queue at Dublin’s College Green, a man and woman, both drunk and stuffing their faces with fast food. When they had enough in their bellies, they tossed the remains of the food and wrappings away onto the street. Two friends of mine were behind them in the queue and, you might say, gave them the hairy eyeball. The drunken woman reared up on them. “Watch yourselves,” she snarled, “I’m a Guard and he’s a Guard as well”…
And she was. She pulled her ID from her pocket and thrust it in their faces, wordlessly daring them to react. Sensible senior media people that they were, they sucked on their rage and held their peace.
Fortunately, the friendly Garda cooled her jets and in due course the representatives of law and order got their taxi and left the scene, leaving both their sulphur and their litter behind. Of the latter, I’m sure the urban foxes, rats and seagulls dealt with anything edible and the street sweepers took the rest. The sulphur took longer to dissipate…
I couldn’t help remembering that confrontation when I read that Gardaí on mountain bikes are to become a daily feature in Killarney National Park. Yeah, apparently there are plans in place to tackle what’s been described as “a worrying increase in underage drinking parties” in parts of the park that are close to the town…
It’s alleged that parties are organised through social network sites, and young people converge at the appointed hour. Huge numbers of bottles and cans have been recovered by wardens and park management.
We’re off again. This week will see the publication of yet more research showing that young people drink a lot, generally in short bursts. And they do. There’s no denying that. But why?
Official Ireland’s stock response is to blame young people, off-licences and supermarkets, the alcohol industry and advertisers, a pattern you can see in HSE bulletins and Government policy documents, time and time again. The bog-standard response is to cluck ever louder and call for greater restrictions and heavier enforcement.