A YOUNG Glengormley man has urged the Stormont Executive to fund a hard-hitting TV advertising campaign warning young people about the dangers of binge drinking.
Anthony Morrissey was part of a delegation from the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF), who met Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann, last Wednesday.
Anthony, whose friend Joby Murphy drowned after falling into the River Lagan after a night out at the Odyssey complex on January 26, 2012, said the aim of the meeting was to raise awareness about the blight of alcohol misuse among the young.
He added: “We impressed on them the need for high profile TV adverts, similar to the drink driving and no smoking campaigns, to drive home the message that misusing alcohol can kill. We are calling on the Stormont Executive to take ownership of this campaign.”
The Junior Ministers have responsibility for Children and Young People and chair the Ministerial Sub-Committee for Children and Young People, which was set up to enable resources to be used effectively and to facilitate co-operation between Government departments.
In the wake of Joby’s death, Anthony and the NIYF secured £380,000 of Lottery funding to introduce an alcohol awareness programme. The funding was given to the Northern Health Trust which appointed NIYF in partnership with Dunlewey Substance Advice Centre to roll out the project.
NIYF will appoint a project co-ordinator who will be responsible for four peer educators who will teach other young people about the dangers of alcohol. This is scheduled to begin in the summer.
Anthony wants politicians to put their support fully behind the initiative.
He explained: “We are taking the campaign as far as we can and we need Ministers and MLAs to understand the devastating effect that alcohol misuse has in communities.”
Also attending the meeting was Glengormley man, NIYF Director Chris Quinn, who thanked the two Ministers for listening carefully to what they had to say.
He said: “We are hoping that this meeting will lead to a new impetus in tackling the blight of underage drinking and alcohol misuse. This needs to be tackled among the very young and we are calling for peer leadership training in schools that will increase awareness and lead to young people making better choices.”