Rise in under-18s buying alcohol through drink delivery services, groups warn
Campaigners are calling for better regulation of drink delivery services.
A growing number of people under-18 are using drink delivery services to purchase alcohol, according to the Irish Community Action on Alcohol Network (ICAAN).
The group has said it is receiving reports of unregulated drink deliveries to young people across Ireland and that this has been "growing steadily throughout the pandemic".
As a result, ICAAN has called on the government to regulate drink delivery services and close a number of legal loopholes, by enabling greater clarity on the point of age verification.
According to the group, there is now a diverse mix of retailers offering alcohol for home delivery, expanding from just the big supermarkets and off-licenses to app-based retailers.
ICAAN said in a statement: "A simple click of the mouse throws up a myriad of options for unregulated and unlicensed vendors, who are advertising 24-hour dial-a-drink services."
Alcohol Forum's Paula Leonard - a charity supporting ICAAN - added: "As we emerge from a long period of social restrictions, we are receiving reports of unregulated drink deliveries to groups of young people in parks and beaches across Ireland.
"Young people understandably want to get back to meeting up with friends, and government needs to take steps to ensure that they can do that safely. Regulating these services lies with government and urgent changes are needed."
ICAAN has said Ireland cannot continue to have a situation where "young teenagers are able to buy copious amounts of alcohol through these types of services where effective age verification is virtually impossible."
It said: "As a country, we have long recognised the risks that consumption of alcohol during the teenage years poses to brain development, to health and to the well-being of young people, so we need to take this issue very seriously."
ICAAN states that it has draft regulations prepared by its legal team who have considered how these can be brought forward by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, adding: "Expedient action is both needed and possible."