MLA warns of ‘booze meltdown’ among teenagers

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A Lagan Valley MLA has warned that “there is a real danger of a booze meltdown among our teenage population.”

Robbie Butler, the UUP’s spokesperson on mental health, said that a lack of official statistics relating to underage drinking means we don’t yet know the full extent of “the crisis”.

Robbie Butler MLA

Robbie Butler MLA

“The burden of responsibility for combating the crisis being caused by underage drinking should be borne not just by proprietors, but by Stormont departments,” he commented.

“There needs to be a closer working relationship between the Health and Communities Departments at Stormont to look at this issue in particular because we are not collecting statistics to address the problem properly.”

Mr Butler, a former emergency services worker, added: “There is the real danger that underage drinking could suddenly explode into the next teenage health epidemic. Without these accurate statistics, it will be very hard to address the problem with a workable solution.”