As this week (28 May) marks the passing of 900 days since the Public Health Alcohol Bill began its legislative passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas, Alcohol Action Ireland has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to renew his focus and prioritise the legislation.
Over that time, sadly the shocking levels of alcohol related harms have continued unabated:
- 2,700 deaths were alcohol related; that is three per day.
- 9,894 cases of alcohol related self-harm have been treated.
- 1.35 million hospital beds have been lost to alcohol related illnesses at a cost of €1.1 billion.
- 762,451 days of alcohol related absenteeism at a cost of €126m.
While recent Technical Barrier-to-Trade Comments from the EU Commission on aspects of the re-notified Bill may add a time delay to final enactment, Committee Stage for the Bill can be debated by Dáil Éireann now, and completed in the coming weeks before the Summer Recess.
Commenting the prevailing situation, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy, Alcohol Action Ireland said:
“There is no doubt that the current ‘standstill’ period is frustrating, especially for those impacted at the frontline of our medical services who daily manage the consequences of Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. However, Ireland’s right to protect the public health of its citizens, and especially its children from harm, remains intact and unaffected.
We remain confident that the government, and specifically An Taoiseach, and the Minister for Health, are steadfastly committed to prioritising this Bill’s enactment.”
The latest set of polling data demonstrates strong public support for the actions being proposed with an overwhelming majority urging government action.
The opinion poll was commissioned by Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland and conducted by Ireland Thinks:
- 92% agree alcohol consumption is too high
- 78% are concerned about children and their exposure to alcohol
- 74% support Government intervention to reduce alcohol consumption and to protect people from alcohol-related harm
- 82% support Government action to curb alcohol marketing that appeals to young people
Full detail of the Ireland Thinks polling data is available at:
The Public Health Alcohol Bill was presented to Seanad Eireann on 10 December 2015 by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, then Minister for Health (2014-16).