Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Alcohol Consumption by Minors.

115.

asked the Minister for Justice whether he will introduce legislation to prevent the consumption of alcohol by minors in public parks.

I would refer the Deputy to the answer I gave on 5th August, 1971, to four questions on the subject of the sale of drink to young persons. In reply to a supplementary question on that occasion I undertook to consider a suggestion that drinking in public places should be prohibited. While I am doubtful whether any prohibition of this kind would be generally acceptable or whether, even if it were acceptable, it would be capable of enforcement, I shall bear the suggestion in mind in connection with any future legislation to amend the Intoxicating Liquor Acts.

116.

asked the Minister for Justice the number of convictions for the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors in the years ended September, 1969, 1970 and 1971.

In the years ended 30th September, 1969, 1970 and 1971 the numbers of persons prosecuted for illegally selling intoxicating liquor to persons under 18 years of age were 15, 18 and 32, respectively and the numbers of persons convicted were 8, 15 and 18, respectively. Five cases are pending.

Would the Minister consider the case of supermarkets and how freely minors can go into supermarkets and take stuff from the shelves——

The question deals with the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Is the Minister aware that there is widespread concern at the way youngsters and teenagers can buy drinks and be served? Does he consider that increasing the penalty against people who are authorised to sell drink would help to stop the availability of drink to young people?

It is a matter for the courts to impose penalties. In these matters the maximum penalty is not often imposed. The most important sanction the courts have on conviction for an offence of this nature is the power to endorse a licence. In fact, sale to young persons is one of the offences where endorsement is compulsory. That is a more effective way of dealing with the matter than by fines.

The availability of drink in supermarkets and off-licences is causing much concern in Dublin.

These people have off-licences and they are entitled to sell for consumption off the premises. If young people wish to get drink, no matter how strictly the licensees enforce the law—and it is difficult of enforcement at times—the people under age can always get someone who is over age to buy it for them. I understand this is a regular occurrence.

This brings us to the point of preventing drinking by minors in public places.

That is a separate question.

I have dealt with that point on a previous question.