Northern Ireland To Tackle Underage, Binge Drinking

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Health Minister Michael McGimpsey is vigorously progressing plans to address young people's drinking in Northern Ireland.

Increasingly concerned about the high level of alcohol consumption in the province, the Minister said he will soon be outlining his plans to tackle young people's drinking in Northern Ireland and reducing the related harms.

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The Minister said: "We have begun a co-ordinated approach with colleagues across Government in Northern Ireland, the Police Service and the local drinks industry to tackle this problem. And I am delighted to say there has been a positive response from all of these key stakeholders and I will soon be outlining a Young People and Alcohol Action Plan for Northern Ireland to provide a local solution for our local needs."

The Minister revealed a ministerial meeting of the Department's of Health and Social Development is to take place in the near future and further discussions with the PSNI are planned later this month.

The Minister added: "We need to change Northern Ireland's drinking culture. But by working in partnership with our communities to look at enforcement and access to alcohol, improving knowledge and awareness, and providing treatment and support services for those who require additional help, we can begin to effectively address the issue.

"Alcohol is a very damaging drug. Excessive consumption clearly impacts on our physical and mental health. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of alcohol. Worryingly, the risk of suicide increases in those that misuse or are dependent on alcohol. It has also been cited as a major factor in domestic violence and anti-social behaviour."

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