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Written Answers. - Identification Cards.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 425. Cecilia Keaveney Information on Cecilia Keaveney Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  his views on the need for a mandatory identification card for proof of age; and if an obligation should be placed on all licencees to demand the age card for the purchase of alcohol by young people. [23310/02]

 432. Cecilia Keaveney Information on Cecilia Keaveney Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell  his views on the need for mandatory identity cards to assist in combating underage drinking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23391/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell I propose to take Questions Nos. 425 and 432 together.

The national voluntary age card scheme, provided for in the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988, is designed to assist licensees in complying with the law. In any proceedings against a licensee for the sale of alcohol to an under-age person, it is a defence to prove that an age card was looked for and was produced by the person concerned. [305] Serious penalties, including temporary closure of a licensed premises, can result where a licensee is convicted of the offence of selling intoxicating liquor to an under-age person.

The legislation does not preclude the use of other forms of personal identification for proof of age purposes, but I would encourage use of the age card wherever possible. I remain unconvinced that a mandatory age card would be more effective, and I believe that the current age card scheme, coupled with the substantial changes provided for in the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2000, is proving an effective deterrent against under-age drinking. In this regard, the latest figures available to me indicate that over 80,000 age cards have been issued by the Garda to date.

In order to further promote the use of age cards, my Department recently placed a contract valued at approximately €150,000 with an advertising agency to conduct an awareness campaign for the national age card scheme. The campaign will focus both on encouraging all licensed premises, including on and off-licences to demand production of the age card and on encouraging 18 to 23 year olds who wish to purchase alcohol to apply for it. A variety of media will be used, including radio, the Internet, posters, direct mail packs and trade publications.


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