Sale of Alcohol Bill

Read our most recent policy briefing here

Alcohol Action Ireland supports the modernisation and streamlining of the alcohol licensing process. We also welcome opportunities to enhance the night-life in Ireland. However, there is an underlying assumption in the Bill that in order to have a vibrant nightlife there must be additional provision for alcohol sales and there is very minimal consideration given to public health matters. 

There are significant concerns about a number of aspects of the Bill as proposed which are likely to lead to increased alcohol use and consequent increased alcohol harms. These include: 

  1. The general extension of licensing hours of all bars/restaurants from 11.30pm to 12.30am 
  2. The facilitating of late-night opening of bars to 2.30am  
  3. The extension of nightclub hours to 6am
  4. The introduction of cultural amenity licenses to venues not usually having a license – eg museums, galleries, theatres etc. 
  5. The revoking of the requirement to extinguish a license before opening a new premises. This will increase the number and density of alcohol outlets. 

As outlined in our submission to the public consultation on this matter and in our presentation to the Oireachtas Justice Committee,  there is clear evidence from multiple other jurisdictions that increased availability of alcohol leads to a range of harms such as increased levels of violence, public disorder, hospital admissions and significant additional pressure on public services. For example, a study in Norway found that each additional 1-hour extension to the opening hours was associated with a 16% increase in violent crime while in the USA increases in the density of alcohol outlets has been linked to increased levels of domestic violence.


Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland commented: “There is a mismatch between the speed and intent of these proposed changes and the slow pace of implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 (PHAA) which is intended to reduce alcohol use by 20% but which has not yet achieved this target because of lack of movement on important restrictions around marketing of alcohol. Increasing opening hours acts against the PHAA.


“We challenge the view that alcohol licensing will improve cultural offerings and call for a deeper consideration of the public health consequences that follows liberal reform of alcohol controls. The thrust of this Bill points again to the need for a statutory Office for Alcohol Harm Reduction which would co-ordinate all aspects of alcohol regulation in Ireland including licensing, marketing and promotion, strategic development of treatment services, education/prevention programming, commissioning of relevant data, plus monitoring and evaluation of policy in this area.”

Polling data indicates significant public concern about the likely impact of increased alcohol availability on public services. A key recommendation of the Oireachtas Justice Committee in its pre-legislative scrutiny of the bill is to have a Health Impact Assessment of the proposals. This call has been supported by the Chief Medical Officer, the Chair of the Road Safety Authority and multiple other organisations and public health advocates.

Read open letter to An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, TD and Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan, TD, signed by 79 health, social and community organisations and advocates.

Support our call for a Health Impact Assessment on the Sale Of Alcohol bill here


Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland webinar: 19/07/2023

Members of the alliance review the issues of the Sale of Alcohol bill and explore ways in which the alliance can advocate for changes to the bill. The meeting also includes a presentation from Dr Ollie Bartlett, Maynooth University an expert in the field of public health law.


PODCAST: Alcohol Availability Amplifies Abuse

With new legislation in Ireland seeking to liberalise alcohol opening hours and density of licensed premises, who is looking out for those impacted by domestic abuse?

PODCAST: Reform of alcohol licensing laws: a problem needing a solution or an opportunity to create different drinking occasions and further normalise alcohol use?

This episode explores the consequences of licensing reform and the need to retain a focus on defined public health objectives.  

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