Leading article

Teenage breath tests a sensible move

While the decision by an underage nightclub in Co Monaghan to breathalyse young people before they are admitted may initially appear a little dramatic, it is actually an entirely reasonable move which will be welcomed by many parents.

The Junior Switch venue in Castleblaney hosts discos for 13 to 17 year olds but had experienced difficulties with some teenagers who turned up with drink taken.

It has been reported that the measure was introduced after a bus arrived at the border complex carrying some youngsters who were unconscious due to alcohol consumption.

Castleblaney is by no means the only Irish town, north or south, which has encountered such problems, and it is essential that those involved in other events aimed at youngsters take an equally responsible attitude.

The promoters at Junior Switch have said that their attendances initially dropped by 40 per cent after the breath tests were introduced but stressed that they felt a duty of care towards their customers.

It seems clear that, if strict monitoring is not in place, peer pressure may encourage teenagers to experiment with drink long before they are mature enough to cope with the range of consequences which may follow.

Those who are 18 and over will have plenty of opportunities to socialise with their friends at a stage when they are legally entitled to enter licenced premises.

Underage discos represent an entirely different set of circumstances and the organisers of events at Junior Switch deserve to be commended for ensuring that young people can enjoy themselves in a safe and supervised environment.

There is a strong case for other entertainment centres which rely on guests in the same age group to consider similar initiatives.

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