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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 21:05 GMT
Probe into Irish binge drinking
Tray of drinks
The Irish government is concerned about binge drinking
The Irish government is to set up a group to examine the law governing the sale of alcohol amid growing concerns about binge drinking.

The decision was announced by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Brian Lenihan, who put forward the original proposal.

Mr Lenihan said binge drinking in Ireland was adding to the problem of public disorder.

The group will report to Minister Lenihan by 31 March.

It will examine the increase in the number of licences in supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations and their below-cost selling and special promotion of alcohol.

It will also look at the increasing number of special exemption orders allowing longer opening hours in licensed premises around the country.

In addition, the group plans to investigate the effectiveness of existing penalties, aimed at combating excessive and under-age alcohol consumption.

Research carried out in the Irish Republic showed there had been a 17% increase in alcohol consumption over the past 10 years, and a 35% increase in the number of off-licences between 2003 and 2005.

Mr Lenihan said he was determined to tackle, as a matter of urgency, the public order aspects of the sale and consumption of alcohol.

He said he intended to bring forward urgent proposals for changes in the law after the group reports back to him and hopes to enact new legislation before the summer.

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