An urgent opportunity to reduce alcohol harm in Ireland

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A letter to the editor from the Alcohol Health Alliance on the new Government and the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill:

Dear Editor,

We welcome the Government commitment to enacting the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill in the Programme for Partnership Government and fully support its prompt progression through the Oireachtas.

This long-awaited legislation, which has cross party support in the Oireachtas, has already concluded second stage in the Seanad and can quickly be enacted and become law within the first 100 days of this Government, if the political will is there to finally tackle our harmful relationship with alcohol in Ireland.

Harmful alcohol consumption in Ireland costs the state €2.35 billion annually in providing healthcare, policing and enforcement, and other services. We know that alcohol harm not only affects the individual drinker, but also affects others around them, including their children and other family members, friends, co-workers and the wider community.

The lack of a progressive alcohol policy in Ireland to date has resulted in children’s lives being blighted by alcohol misuse resulting from parental addiction and contributing to financial difficulties, family breakdown, neglect and abuse.

The measures within the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill are a very important and positive first step in our efforts to reduce alcohol harm and improve the health, safety and wellbeing of our people. Most importantly, this legislation will save lives and improve the quality and quantity of life for many of our citizens.

Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland – the first public health advocacy coalition formed on alcohol, is calling on the new partnership Government to tackle these urgent problems now by enacting the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill without further delay. This will lead to immediate improvements in the health and wellbeing of our people as well as a huge economic benefit in our society. We look forward to supporting our public representatives in this initiative.

Yours sincerely,

Prof Frank Murray. President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Chair of Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland

Suzanne Costello, Alcohol Action Ireland

Paul Gordon, Irish Cancer Society

Mary Cunningham, National Youth Council of Ireland

Barry Dempsey, Irish Heart Foundation

Senator Frances Black, The Rise Foundation

Grainia Long, ISPCC

Tanya Ward, Children’s Rights Alliance

June Tinsley, Barnardos

Dr. Cate Hartigan, Head of Health Promotion, HSE

Prof. Joe Barry, Trinity College Dublin

Dr. Shari McDaid, Mental Health Reform

Rachel Wright, Samaritans

Colette Kelleher, Alzheimers Society of Ireland

Dr. Donal O’Shea, Consultant Endocrinologist

Dr. John Duddy, Irish Medical Organisation

Dr. Orla Crosbie, Consultant Hepatologist

Dr. PJ Byrne, Irish Dental Association

Kieran Doherty, Alcohol Forum

Jillian van Turnhout

Triona Ni Rainne, Galway Healthy Cities Alcohol Forum

Michelle Murphy, Social Justice Ireland

Dr. Hugh Gallagher, Addiction Services, HSE

Jacqueline Healy, National Women’s Council of Ireland

Siobhan Kelly, Irish College of Ophthalmologists

Etain Kett, Dental Health Foundation

Sadie Grace, Family Support Network

Prof. Ella Arensman, National Suicide Research Foundation

Michelle Murphy, Social Justice Ireland

Grainne Flemming, No Name Club

John Bennett, Finglas/Cabra Local Drug and Alcohol Taskforce

Dr. Eoin MacDonncha, Irish Student Health Association

Dr. Michael Byrne, React Alcohol

Prof. Donal O’Shea, Consultant Endocrinologist

Susan Quirke, A lust for life

Aoife Ni Shuilleabhain, Union of Students of Ireland

Kieran Ryan, Irish College of General Practitioners

Liz Yeates, Marie Keating Foundation

Philip McGarry, College of Psychiatrists, Northern Ireland

Claire Hayes, Aware

Siobhan Kelly, The Irish College of Ophthalmologists

Fintan Hourihan, Irish Dental Association

Peter Gaffey, Environmental Health Association of Ireland

Anthea Carry, Tallaght Drug and Alcohol Task Force

Dr. Steven Stewart, Gastroenterologist

Dr. Aidan McCormick, Gastroenterologist

Dr. Ray Barry, Dean Faculty Paediatrics, RCPI

Dr. Elizabeth Keane, Dean Faculty Public Health, RCPI

Rolande Anderson, Addiction Counsellor

Eibhlin Mulroe, ICORG

Dr. John Hillery, College of Psychiatrists

Dr. Joy Bell, Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland

Hugh Greeves, Ballymun Local Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce

Dr. Mark Delargy, The National Rehabilitation Hospital

Clíona Saidlear, Rape Crisis Network Ireland

Donna  Price, Irish Road Victims Association

Triona  Ni Rainne, Galway Health Cities

Carol Moore, Lifewise

Eoin Stephens, Dual Diagnosis Ireland

Niamh  Farrell, AMEN Support Services

Fiona Nally, Pavee Point

Mary O’Brien, One Step Clinic

Colin Fowler, Men’s Health Forum in Ireland

Steven  Joyce, South Western Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Force

Emma Campion, Registered Nurse

Sandra  Mullen, Clondalkin drugs and alcohol taskforce

Bernie McDonnell, Community Awareness of Drugs

Dr. Mark O’Loughlin, Senior House Officer, Galway University Hospital