Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called on the European Union to produce an action plan to tackle underage and binge drinking.
During a debate at the European Parliament in Brussels, Ms Anderson said recent events in Ireland, including the neknomination craze and the deaths of a number of young people, illustrates the need for an action plan.
“This action plan is designed to encourage prevention and health promotion and education, foster early diagnosis, improve access to treatment and provide continuous support to people and their families affected by alcohol related health and traffic accident issues.
“Harmful use of alcohol is the second largest lifestyle related cause of disease in our society and alcohol addiction is a risk factor in over 60 chronic diseases, including alcoholic liver disease (ALD), alcoholic chronic pancreatitis and almost all other digestive diseases, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and neuropsychiatric disorders such as alcohol dependence.”
Ms Anderson continued: “Across Ireland and Britain there has been a recent drinking craze sweeping through social media networks such as Facebook known as ‘NekNominate’.
“Unfortunately in recent weeks, two young men have lost their lives in Ireland taking part in these stunts.
“It is clear that a lot more must be done to tackle what has become a culture of binge drinking amongst the young and old alike.
“Indeed, events in Belfast last week when 60 young people had to be treated at the Odyssey concert arena by ambulance services or taken to A+E for excessive alcohol consumption, only serves to further the urgency of this issue,” she said.