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Garda ‘stings’ net 29 bars

Twenty-nine bars have been caught selling alcohol to teens in garda ‘underage’ sting operations.

The figure arose from a Parliamentary Question put to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform.

Underage operations carried out by the Gardai up to St Patrick’s Day have netted 29 licensed premises selling alcohol to minors since operations began last October.

Part of the sting, which became possible with the passing into legislation of Section 14 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act  2008, involves teenagers aged between 15 and 17 helping gardai to target those licensed premises suspected of engaging in the illegal sale of alcohol to young people.

Under the scheme Gardai can send such a minor into a premises for the purpose of purchasing alcohol provided that person is at all times observed by two undercover Gardai, one inside the premises and the other outside.

Gardai can apply for a Closure Order of two to four days duration and/or a fine of up to €3,000 for the first offence. A second conviction can lead to Closure Orders of up to 30 days and fines of €5,000 while a third would lead to the licence being declared permanently invalid.

Young persons used in this operation are not allowed to appear older than their true age by means of makeup, clothes or jewellery. If asked about their age they must reply truthfully and may not present false ID.

A recent report by Alcohol Action Ireland claimed that 86 per cent of minors found it relatively easy to purchase alcohol.

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