After more than 1,000 days since it was first introduced in the Seanad, new legislation to combat problem drinking has been passed by the Dáil.
The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will introduce restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcohol, paving the way for measures like minimum unit pricing; cancer warnings being printed on alcohol packaging, and advertising restrictions.
The legislation has taken nearly three years to pass through all stages of the Dáil, as many TDs have objected to its terms. Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae opposed the measures against alcohol advertising, saying it was the, “demonisation of an industry” and “there is nothing wrong with promoting alcohol in moderation”.
As the bill was passed late last night, TDs applauded the achievement, while Minister for Health Simon Harris described it as “groundbreaking legislation”. It is the first time that the State has used public health policy to address alcohol consumption.
In his speech, he said: “We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, that damages our health, harms our communities, and harms many families.”
“The measures in this bill will make a real difference to change the culture of drinking in Ireland,” he added. The Minister also paid tribute to TDs Marcella Corcoran Kennedy (Fine Gael), Róisín Shortall (Social Democrats) and Senator Frances Black for their work in passing the legislation.
The bill will now return to the Seanad for its final approval before being signed by the President into law.