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Northern Ireland - Alcohol figures 'unacceptable'

More than 360 pupils were suspended from secondary schools in Northern Ireland over the past five years because of alcohol abuse.

The figures were published in response to a parliamentary question from MLA Thomas Burns, of the SDLP, who described the numbers as "unacceptable". He added: "It is shocking to learn this behaviour is not just restricted to town centres on Friday and Saturday nights, but has made it into our schools as well. The last thing anyone wants to see is schoolchildren staggering drunk in the street."

The statistics cover the academic years from 200304 to 200708 but do not contain any details about whether the pupils involved were under the influence of alcohol while at school.

Mr Burns acknowledged that the availability of cheap alcohol was a factor, but said parents had a role to play: "Harsh discipline needs to be brought to bear inside and outside the school," he said. MR.

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