The first all-island conference on the issue of alcohol misuse was held in Armagh on 26 January 2012. The conference was jointly opened by Mr Edwin Poots, Minister, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), Northern Ireland and Dr James Reilly, Minister for Health, Department of Health (DoH), Ireland. Ms Roisin Shortall, Minister for State with responsibility for Primary Care, Department of Health (DoH), Ireland also attended the conference which brought together policy makers and representatives from a range of agencies on the island to explore common issues and challenges in relation to alcohol culture and alcohol abuse.
The idea for the conference was discussed at a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council, Health and Food Safety Sectoral format on 20 July 2011 with Ministers for Health noting the scope for sharing information and evidence based material on an all island basis in a number of areas including the tackling of alcohol abuse. It was later agreed to hold a North South conference on alcohol misuse in January 2012 to explore some of the common issues in relation to the alcohol culture on both sides of the border.
The key objectives of the conference included:
- To broaden understanding of the impact of alcohol abuse across the island of Ireland
- To consider particular challenges relating to alcohol and young adults and our drinking culture
- To consider possible broad strategic responses
- To consider ways in which responses across the island of Ireland could be better coordinated