Ahern Dismisses Reports On Teenage Addiction

The Taoiseach has dismissed media reports which he claimed suggested that all teenagers were addicted to drink or drugs. Bertie Ahern told the Dáil that just because a 14-year-old tried one cigarette or one drink, it did not make them an alcoholic or a smoker.

And he urged people not to take the number of people who tried drugs once as the figure taking them regularly. He was responding to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who raised recent media reports about teenagers which said Ireland was number one in the world for girls under 15 who tried drugs.

Mr Kenny claimed the figure of four out of 10 teenagers trying drugs was a ‘damning indictment of the state of Irish society’.

However Mr Ahern pointed out that the figures were based on a survey carried out in 2002 and published in 2003, and that there was ‘nothing new’ in a report being published today by Minister for Children Brian Lenihan.

He said resources had been put into the anti-drugs stategy, and urged the media to concentrate on positive findings, such as the fact that Irish children were second in the world in terms of being active.

The Taoiseach said more resources should be put into supporting young people’s social activities, ‘whether it’s tiddly-winks or something more sophisticated’.