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 Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The Minister turns my concerns into what he would describe as a positive in terms of the Bill's impact on low-income families and students. That is not what the Bill should be about because it misses the point. Students by and large have no or very little disposable income. Drink abuse among low-income families and students is more in evidence because it happens in a more public way. People are going from their homes to a pub. That would be the case with students. They are not buying in drink to drink in their homes. They are not having the negative impact on dependants, young children and older children, and what they are exposed to.

Those who may well have the greatest problem in all this are those who can afford the more expensive alcohol products. The Minister is not seeing the reality of the lives that they lead and the impact that their problems have on those who are dependent on them. We need to recognise the raft of different social issues that require address in terms of people on low income and even the student population. However, it is not about making their access to alcohol more expensive or even in some cases prohibitive. That is not what the Bill is about. It may be part of it, but there are many other measures that would make a difference to the lives of people in those circumstances. We need to look at the issue holistically and not to take our eye off the biggest problem and that is the one that is least exposed in terms of alcohol.


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