Written Answers. - Crime Levels.

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

229 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform 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 48% of criminal offences are alcohol related, 88% of public order, 48% of offences against the person and 54% of all criminal damage offences; and if he will make a statement on the role his Department can take in this matter. [22078/02]

Cecilia Keaveney

Question:

230 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform 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 Irish teens rank among the highest in Europe for all measures of alcohol consumption and that there has been a 360% increase in detection of intoxication in public places by under-age drinkers since 1996; and if he will make a statement on the role his Department can take in this matter. [22079/02]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 230 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I have responsibility for the general policy on intoxicating liquor legislation. In this regard, the existing legislation contains wide-ranging provisions designed to tackle the problems associated with excessive consumption. The proposals in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 2002, currently before the House will add to those provisions. However, I will be considering the matters outlined in the position paper and consulting my colleagues the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Education and Science, who also have responsibilities in this regard. I will bring any measures which are considered necessary before the House in the usual way.

However, it must be said that while legislative measures, together with initiatives such as the age card scheme, can help to curtail the problems of under age drinking, they cannot be viewed as the only solution. Dealing with the demand side of the under age drinking problem should not be seen as the province of the State agencies alone. It falls on all parties with responsibilities in this area, the drinks industry, the media, politicians, teachers and, in particular, parents, to play their part in helping to address the problem of alcohol abuse, with special regard to young people.