Alcohol Action Ireland today welcomed the commencement of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill before Dáil Éireann this evening (6th Feb). This marks a major milestone for the proposed legislation especially at a time when alcohol consumption in Ireland continues to rise and alcohol harms have never been more pronounced.
Regrettably over the duration of the two-year legislative delay experienced so far, our national consumption levels of alcohol have continued to rise, a further 2100 lives have been lost to alcohol related illnesses, and over 100,000 children have commenced drinking while alcohol continues to be a contributing factor in half of all suicides in Ireland.
The Bill, as passed by Seanad Éireann, prior to the Christmas recess was subject to intense industry lobbying, which lead to a weakening of the measures proposed for separation of alcohol products in our stores.
Commenting on the Bill’s commencement, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy, Alcohol Action Ireland, said:
“We remain confident that this progressive piece of legislation will significantly and positively alter Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol. This initiative is the most far-reaching proposed by any Irish Government, with alcohol being addressed for the first time as a public health issue.
The historical importance of this cannot be lost and it is incumbent on all Deputies in Dáil Éireann to now give this legislation a safe and speedy passage, before we face another year of lost lives, and the consequences of utterly avoidable harms.”
Alcohol Action Ireland applauds the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, for his steadfast commitment to enacting this Bill, and his determination, along with other political figures – past and present, to take this historic opportunity to ensure that Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol will be addressed as a public health concern.
The Bill contains a range of measures designed to work together to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland so reducing alcohol related harm. It will protect children, families and communities from alcohol related harms and create an environment that supports a low risk approach to individual consumption.