Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children

General Scheme of Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Discussion (Resumed)

9:30 am

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister for his comprehensive presentation. I will focus on one or two points. A recent publication by Dr. Orla Crosbie of Cork University Hospital addressed liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver and how the situation had changed in the past 20 years. Approximately 40% of patients in these categories now are female whereas there would have been few or no female patients 20 years ago. A frightening finding in the study is that many of these females are young mothers with young children.

I will focus on section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, to which my colleague, Senator van Turnhout, referred. I raised it as a Commencement matter in the Seanad this week. If we publish legislation at the end of July, it will have gone through the process by November or December. Implementation will take a further six to 12 months. Why can we not consider section 9 of the 2008 Act, which clearly set out the question of the segregation of alcohol products? According to the Minister's submission, there is an ongoing discussion with the Minister for Justice and Equality. Can we not implement section 9? The legislation is already in place. Section 9 could be implemented by 1 January of next year. If we go through this legislative process, however, it will take at least a further 12 months. Why can we not agree what needs to be done in respect of section 9 so that the industry can prepare for it and there can be a clear timeline? Currently, there is no timeline or any guarantee that we will have passed this legislation by December. The structures that we have discussed establishing will not be in place by the time the next general election comes around. As such, there is no guarantee that the legislation will not be changed immediately afterwards. Section 9 already exists. We can implement it. If we put a timeline up to 1 January in place, we will have implemented some change instead of living with the current ifs and buts. Will the Minister's Department and the Department of Justice and Equality consider my suggestion?


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