herald

Monday 20 August 2018

I hate ID cards, but can we stop teens buying booze any other way?

HAS the world gone bonkers? Or more precisely, the laws attached to buying alcohol in relation to one's age...

I know we're meant to know the one that's one too many, but when it comes to guessing the age of a young person buying booze, how to tell the one who's one (or more!) years too young?

It seems more difficult than I could imagine, because last night, on my return from the cinema, I called in to a grocery store to do a quick sweep. When I got to the till, there was a young one, all back-combed hair, orange make-up and Ugg boots, shamelessly buying a naggin of vodka and two large bottles of Polish beer.



RUCKSACK

She didn't look a day over 14. Then again, neither did the young guy serving her.

There was no request for ID, and no bother on either of them. She paid in cash and then put the lot into her rucksack.

I mean, come off it. Short of having a yummy mum waiting outside in a Jeep, she couldn't have epitomised a South County Dublin kid more.

And yet there she was, buying alcohol at night as if it were her God-given right. Now, as far as I know, you have to be over 21 years of age to earn that entitlement, and there's now talk of upping that age in certain outlets to 25.

And yet there seem to be impromptu 'cocktail parties' taking place outside teen discos all over the country with cider, vodka, alcopops and Blue WKDs featuring strongly -- not exactly the sort of purchases made by adults, so the booze must have come from somewhere.

This makes me laugh all the more as, recently in my local offie, I was asked for ID when I popped in for a couple of bottles of wine one Friday night.

Admittedly, it was on 'Wesley' night and the area was populated by Tango'd teens, tottering about uneasily in towering heels; and the sales assistant in question didn't even take his head out of the cash till before uttering the words "can I see some ID?"

He only looked up when I joyously asked, "are you sure?" I mean, I know I'm doing an okay job fighting my 'seven signs of ageing', but I'm not sure there's enough Olay on the planet to instantly shave 25 years off my looks.

"Nah, you're alright," the assistant agreed on taking an eyeful of me, but obviously the request still made my weekend.

In all seriousness though, when we hear stories of binge drinking by those who are too young to understand the life-altering effects such a night of misadventure could bring, it's wrong that alcohol can be so easily got by minors. Whether the rule is 18, or 21, or 25 seems immaterial when much younger teenagers can saunter in and purchase what they like over the counter.

I don't like the idea of national identification cards; in fact I'd rally against the concept.



RUCKSACK



But unless our retailers can get their act together and put on a united front against selling alcohol to underage teens, I can't think of another, more effective solution.

Especially when far too many seem to accept any form of dodgy homemade ID -- if they bother to even ask for it in the first place.

And it makes a mockery of those who dutifully do adhere to the law. They suddenly become the spoilsports: the nuisances who have to be sidestepped.

With summer on the way, and with it, school holidays and the various associated 'rites of passage' like music festivals and exam results nights, we need Irish retailers to work with adults and refuse to sell booze to underage kids. Not to conspire with the teenagers and facilitate them.

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