Northern Ireland

Attwood meets bus operators to tackle illegal drinking

Alex Attwood
Image caption Mr Attwood met with nightclub owners to discuss "irresponsible" drinks promotions

Northern Ireland's environment minister is meeting with licensed bus operators to tackle illegal drinking on buses.

Some operators allow young people to consume alcohol on the way to nightclubs and other venues.

Alex Attwood met them to discuss the problems caused by drinking on buses.

The meeting is part of the minister's efforts against the abuse of alcohol and its consequences for health, road safety and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Attwood said bus operators needed to be aware that it was an offence to consume alcohol on a public service vehicle and carried a maximum fine of £1,000

He said he had instructed the DVA to conduct targeted operations against alleged coach operator offenders.

"I am meeting with bus and coach operators to make them aware of their legal responsibilities regarding passengers consuming alcohol on board their vehicles and to bluntly warn them of the risk to their licenses if they fail to act responsibly," he said.

"This is a parallel meeting to last week's with the nightclub owners. The political and public spotlight is firmly fixed on the irresponsible nightclub and coach operators."

Mr Attwood has also instructed officials to consider ways of improving the current arrangements in order to deter people from drinking on buses, and if necessary to recommend changes to the law.

"I am exploring measures to help put an end to unacceptable and unsafe behaviour on buses," he said.

'Good practice'

"Irresponsible operators must get their act together - this meeting is to make sure they do and that the law will make them do so.

"The many good coach operators will receive my support. Good practice will be acknowledged - those who offend should live up to their standards."

Last Thursday, the minister met around 40 nightclub owners to discuss "irresponsible" drinks promotions.

Alex Attwood wants to make it tougher for pubs and clubs to get and retain entertainments licences.

It follows the death of 20-year-old Joby Murphy who drowned after a night out drinking.

He had been drinking vodka at £1 a shot before he fell into the River Lagan in January. At the time, his father criticised cheap drink deals.

Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots has been looking at the possibility of introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. In December, he said alcohol misuse was one of the main threats to public health in Northern Ireland.

Last month, the social development minister Nelson McCausland said he would move to ban some cheap drink promotions.

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