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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 18:22 GMT
McGuinness slams alcohol in soaps
Fight in Eastenders' Queen Vic
Martin McGuinness said soaps like Eastenders set a bad example
The alcohol culture portrayed in soaps like EastEnders and Coronation Street is "irresponsible broadcasting", Martin McGuinness has warned.

Northern Ireland's deputy first minster said the antics portrayed in the Rovers Return and Queen Vic was unacceptable.

Political leaders were discussing alcohol and drug abuse at the British-Irish Council summit in Dublin.

"I have to say I am absolutely appalled at the level of concentration around the pub in the programmes," he said.

"I am appalled at the drunkenness that is quite clear for everybody to see, and all of that before the nine o'clock watershed when children as young as eight, nine, 10 and 11 are watching.

"Now I regard that as irresponsible broadcasting and I think something should be done about it."

'Not a fan'

Mr McGuinness, who is teetotal, said: "I am not a fan of EastEnders or Coronation Street but my wife and my children, particularly the girls, watch the programme."

The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) welcomed Mr McGuinness's comments.

Chief Executive Dr Jane Wilde said: "We also need an end to special promotions by supermarkets and laws on the minimum pricing of alcohol. More needs to be done in stopping under-18s being sold alcohol."

Bertie Ahern, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness
Various leaders attended the British-Irish Council meeting
Political leaders from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man attended the talks in Dublin.

Among the issues being discussed were inter-governmental measures to tackle drug and alcohol abuse, as well as suicide and child protection.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said cocaine was becoming a major problem across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan called for the current binge culture to be changed into a "sipping" culture similar to that in continental Europe.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said the smoking ban was a good example of how the administrations could follow each other in adopting successful health promotion policies.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Ian Paisley called for increased child protection and meaningful measures to tackle suicide.

Set up under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the British-Irish Council will re-convene in Edinburgh in September.

SEE ALSO
When neighbours become good friends?
17 Jun 07 |  Northern Ireland
Shows 'encourage teen drinking'
10 Mar 07 |  Health

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