It’s often said that ‘the Irish love to drink’ – we are known internationally for many things, but the pub is way up there.  Whereas many of us drink to socialise, many of us simply drink to get drunk and then keep on drinking.  The effects are scary.

While a cohort of young men have long been known to get drunk, ‘locked’, ‘blotto’, ‘out of their tree’ – a sizeable number of young women are now joining their male colleagues in getting ‘off their face’.

Our young adults are now often avoiding the pub, choosing to drink at home, buying cheaper alcohol in supermarkets and then heading out to clubs or late bars.

But how much are they drinking, and what effect is it having on them and those around them?

Over four nights Prime Time filmed on the streets of Ireland – looking at what really happens in the early hours.

We spent two nights in Dublin and one each in Carlow and Waterford.  We decided to film during the week as opposed to weekends.  We used secret cameras to walk amongst night revellers.

We saw many drunk and rowdy people.  The majority did not cause trouble for others, but we did see many shocking, unsightly and scary scenes.  We saw men and women urinating in doorways, other people vomiting on the street, and we saw people being taken away in ambulances having collapsed unconscious.  We saw people stumble into traffic.  In Dublin and Carlow we witnessed random violence on a shocking scale – young men being punched repeatedly in the head, and some being kicked in the head as they lay on the ground.  In some places we saw a good Garda presence, in others we saw no Gardaí whatsoever.

All of those we filmed, we assume were legally entitled to drink alcohol.  They were going into or coming out of nightclubs or pubs, or hanging around in the early hours of the morning.  Most people seemed to be able to handle being drunk, but we filmed dozens of young adults who were most definitely not able to handle it, some who were obscene, some who were violent, some who were a danger to themselves and others.

You can now buy alcohol at the same time as getting a pint of milk.  Some alcohol is not much more expensive than milk.  But isn’t there an issue of personal responsibility here?  Many of us will learn from a ‘bad night’ what our level of alcohol intake is.  But some young adults continue to drink beyond their threshold.  It’s happening out in the open on our streets.  By day we all might feel safe enough walking along the streets of Dublin or Carlow.  But by night, believe me, you need your wits about you.

Join me for a special Prime Time report on Ireland’s Young Drinkers on Tuesday 2nd December, 9.35pm, RTÉ One.