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Sting catches 29 bars selling drink to teens

SOME 29 pubs have been caught selling alcohol to teens in new garda sting operations.

And teenagers aged between 15 and 17 have been helping gardai to catch the publicans.

The sting operations, which were brought into law by the Intoxicating Liquor Act, have been operating since last October.

It took two years to come into effect and is based on the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008.

The parent or guardian of the youth must have given consent and the member of the Garda Siochana must be satisfied that all reasonable steps have been or will be taken to avoid harm to the youth's welfare.

Businesses targeted include pubs and off-licences, including supermarkets and convenience stores. The scheme allows gardai to send a person aged between 15 and 17 into a premises to purchase alcohol, observed by two undercover gardai.

One of the gardai must be inside the premises with the other on the outside and one of the two gardai must be of the same sex as the test purchaser.

Closure

If a sale takes place, the premises will be prosecuted. Gardai can apply for a closure order on the premises for between two and four days and/or a fine of up to €3,000 for a first offence.

Second and subsequent convictions can lead to closure orders of up to 30 days and fines of €5,000.

The intoxicating liquor licence is liable to forfeiture if two current convictions exist and a third is directed to be recorded on the licence.

If this happens the premises can never again operate as a licensed premises. Under the guidelines young people must not be made older than their age by means of their clothes, jewellery or make-up and must truthfully answer if questioned about their age.

The young person is not allowed to present a false identity card, or lie about his or her age. There is no financial reward for taking part in the sting, but reasonable expenses will be paid.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Defence has released figures which state that between October 1 last year and St Patrick's Day the Act has been invoked against 29 licensed premises.

In a recent report by Alcohol Action Ireland, 86pc of minors said that it was relatively easy to purchase alcohol.

hnews@herald.ie