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 Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I apologise for having to leave earlier for a while. I thank the Minister, Dr. Holohan and Ms Luddy for attending. I thank the Minister for his speech. I wholeheartedly support minimum unit pricing. One of my questions, which has already been asked, was how long it would take to put this in place.

I have two other questions. The first relates to the structural separation in shops and supermarkets and, I hope, in petrol stations. Who will supervise and monitor the visible availability of alcohol? How will it be put in place? The Minister stated that business would not be put under any extreme pressure if there were costs involved in making a separate area in a supermarket or petrol station. One of the drawbacks, even in supermarkets and shops I have been in, is that there is a separate area for alcohol which used be at the back but which seems to be creeping up to the front where the service desk is.

How young people view alcohol is a result of the pressure on them which is caused by being unable to cope with many of the difficulties they face.

There is no mention of education in the report. Maybe it will appear in another report. I have heard people saying that education does not make any difference to people who want to drink. As a mother, I have always spoken to my children about the ill effects of drink, drugs and smoking. I have achieved some of my goals with them but not all. If we are going to educate young people about the consumption of alcohol and drug addiction, it starts in the home but it must continue into school. Is there anything in the Bill for schools and colleges? I know from my children about the consumption of alcohol on so-called "cheap nights" where the price is a lot lower than it should be. What about the sale and marketing of alcohol?

Education should take place as early as primary school. I met a little fellow a number of years ago. He visited me in the youth club one night and I could see he was not in a nice place. He had drunk a half a bottle of vodka before he came in and he should have been carted off in an ambulance. Alcohol is readily available. I welcome the introduction of minimum unit prices but I want to know how it is going to be monitored, particularly in stores, supermarkets and petrol stations. If businesses are not prepared to pay the cost of moving drink in the aisles, how will it be tackled?


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