CHILDREN as young as ten are consuming alcohol in public places around Portlaoise.
Highlighting the issue of youths drinking in groups, Cllr Kathleen O’Brien informed the Portlaoise Joint Policing Committee meeting that she came across an incident where ten and twelve year olds were involved.
“It is on the increase and we’ve got to do something about it. I’m also concerned that those involved move on to start using drugs.”
Cllr O’Brien believes alcohol is too readily available. “It is very easy and cheap to purchase in supermarkets. The youths gather in gangs and they find an open space anywhere to drink and during the winter months they get into derelict properties.”
Sergeant Tom Walton said Gardaí were tackling the issue as best they could.
“When we know of a situation and it is reported to us, we can deal with it. We have moved youths on from derelict premises and our Community Policing Unit are very active. I wouldn’t like to think these incidents are on the increase as they lead to other offences such as drugs, criminal damage and theft and our statistics go up.”
Sergeant Justine O’Reilly said the Community Policing Unit had a strong relationship with off licences in the town and the experience is that adults are buying the alcohol for the children. She also pointed out that parents had to take responsibility in knowing where their children are and who they are with.
Sgt O’Reilly appealed for vigilance and said Gardaí were liaising with different agencies in an effort to address the problem. She also urged people to report incidents immediately saying that the impact isn’t the same if it is made a few days afterwards.
Sgt O’Reilly explained it was intended to increase visibility around the town and patrols in the estates.