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Youth cafes to finally get green light after 10 years

Irish Examiner 26/02/2007
by Paul O Brien

The government is finally preparing to introduce youth cafes in order to tackle binge drinking - 10 years after being elected. Childrens minister Brian Lenihan said yesterday that the demand for non-alcoholic outlets by youth groups was certainly "a worthy one" adding that the government would bring forward it's policy on the issue "in a few weeks time".

The youth cafes will be funded from the €12.3 billion being invested in the childrens programme of the National Development Plan 2007 - 2013. But Mr Lenihan denied the government had been slow to tackle the issue, or that it had ignored key recommendations of the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol, a government-appointed expert group which issued it's final report in2004.

Mr Lenihan said one of the task forces' main recommendations was to tax alcohol more heavily - a move which had already been taken. It had also decided not to introduce café bars, as the task force believed that more alcohol outlets would lead to more alcohol being consumed. He admitted that the Governement had failed to ban alcohol advertising, but said that, although he would like to see such a ban, he didn't believe it would work. This is because the Government can only ban domestic media companies, such as RTE, from running alcohol advertising.

Foreign companies such as Sky, would still be able to show alcohol advertising on their channels , which are beamed into Irish homes, and therefore a ban didn't make much sense Mr Lenihan said. He was speaking as he launched a plan to consult with teenagers on alcohol misuse. Up to 300 young people between 14 and 18 will be involved in the consultation, representing all social economic groups.