Safety plan needed for surge in violence

Alcohol Action Ireland calls for ‘practical’ health and safety plan amid growing spates of violence and public disorder 

AAI is also calling for amendments to the Sale of Alcohol bill to ensure that it does not have a wide range of unintended consequences 

Amid increased and repeated warnings about violence and lawlessness in Dublin, fueled at least partly by alcohol, and concerns about levels of policing, AAI is calling for a halt to proposals to increase opportunities for alcohol use and for plans to be drawn up now ahead of the likely passing of the Sale of Alcohol bill next year. 

Government proposals to significantly change licensing laws must come with a practical health and safety plan which focuses on the health and wellbeing of all citizens. 

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  
  1. The facilitating of late-night opening of bars to 2.30am   
  1. The extension of nightclub hours to 6am 
  1. The introduction of cultural amenity licenses to venues not usually having a license  
  1. The revoking of the requirement to extinguish a license before opening a new premises. This will increase the number and density of alcohol outlets.  

Government is set on passing the Sale of Alcohol bill, but we have seen no plans as to what resources are being put in place now to deal with the fallout. This, while we are hearing about deployment of armed officers, riot police and dog units – in the wake of a series of high-profile attacks on tourists,” CEO of AAI, Dr Sheila Gilheany said.  

AAI has questions as to how prepared Dublin and other urban areas will be in dealing with additional opening hours. For example: How will emergency services cope with additional demand? Will there be a transport plan for the city? Who will take care of extra street cleansing including rubbish removal. Also, with increased alcohol use, will there be more public awareness provided to the population about the harms of binge drinking and will more access to treatment services be made available?

AAI is calling for amendments to the bill to ensure that it does not have a wide range of unintended consequences. Research from a series of studies from Australia demonstrate that reducing the hours during which alcohol outlets can sell alcohol late at night can substantially reduce rates of violence.”  

The researchers stated: “The evidence of effectiveness is strong enough to consider restrictions on late-trading hours for bars and pubs as a key approach to reducing late-night violence in Australia.” 

“Given the clear international evidence, rather than pouring more alcohol into the already unsafe environment in our cities and town, we are calling for a rethink on increasing alcohol availability. We would ask, who is going to carry the burden of more alcohol on our streets and in our homes? Is government drawing up a practical plan that will consider the range of issues associated with the night-time economy including crime and disorder, street noise, nuisance and litter, domestic and sexual violence, increased need for public transport and so on. In Cardiff, a city centre alcohol treatment service was set up to deal with public intoxication at the weekends. It triaged people and diverted them away from emergency departments. These are the kinds of measures we need to look at,” Dr Gilheany said. 

“We are calling for a health & safety plan for Dublin in the first instance that will look at all of these issues. It could then be used as a blueprint for other large urban areas. It should have costs mapped for each of the above-mentioned points, details of where the funding will come from and have plans to deal with what will very likely occur. If government is intent on developing a night-time economy, it is incumbent on it to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who use and work in the night-time economy – and indeed society as a whole. Equally importantly, with such costed plans there would be much more realism brought to discussions on the Sale of Alcohol bill” Dr Gilheany added. 




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