Written Answers. - Alcohol Abuse.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

181 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the need for more action to be taken in response to statistics in the Association for Health Promotion's alcohol position paper, September 2002, where it outlines that one third of marital breakdowns are attributed to alcohol; and if he will make a statement on the role his Department can take in this matter. [22080/02]

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

182 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the need for more action to be taken in response to statistics found in the Association for Health Promotion's alcohol position paper, September 2002, where it outlines that economic costs of alcohol-related problems were approximately ?2.37 billion in 1999 in healthcare costs, accidents, crime, absenteeism, transfer payments and lost taxes - 60% of the total revenue from alcohol to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the role his Department can take in this matter. [22082/02]

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

207 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the need for more action to be taken in response to statistics in the Association for Health Promotion's alcohol position paper, September 2002, where it outlines that one in four presenting at accident and emergency departments have an alcohol-related injury or illness; and if he will make a statement on the role his Department can take in this matter. [22081/02]

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

208 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on the recommendations contained in the Association for Health Promotion's alcohol position paper, September 2002; and the actions his Department will take in response to these findings. [22093/02]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 181, 182, 207 and 208 together.

I have outlined my position in relation to the misuse of alcohol on many occasions and it is an issue which continues to be of grave concern to me. The health promotion unit of my Department has been actively involved in a wide range of initiatives aimed at tackling alcohol misuse.

In January of this year, I also established a strategic task force on alcohol under the chairmanship of the chief medical officer of my Department. The task force is broadly based and is representative of experts from Government Departments, the health boards, NGOs, public health, health promotion, health and safety, education, the Garda Síochána, sport and recreation, parents, the drinks industry, alcohol treatment services and from the health promotion unit.

The task force produced an interim report in May this year and I understand that the recommendations contained in the position paper drafted in September broadly reflect those of the task force. The implementation of the task force recommendations will require a co-ordinated multi-sectoral response and I am confident that the support needed from other statutory and non-statutory agencies will be forthcoming in this regard.