Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 27 September 2012
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children
Business of Joint Committee
On behalf of the committee, I pay tribute to Deputy Róisín Shortall, who resigned last night as Minister of State with responsibility for primary care at the Department of Health. I thank her for her work not just with this committee but also in the area of alcohol policy, in which she worked closely with us. On a personal level, I regret her decision to resign, wish her well in her political career and thank her most sincerely for the work she did with this committee.
I would like to be associated with the Chairman's remarks. Deputy Shortall has unquestionably made a considerable contribution during her tenure as Minister of State at the Department of Health and I wish her well.
I would also like to be associated with the remarks about my party colleague. I very much regret her decision, particularly in view of the ground-breaking work she did on the reform of our health service, the line she was pursuing and her commitment to tackling the alcohol issue, which is especially relevant on a day that has been hijacked by a particular drinks company. People from the drinks lobby will be rejoicing that she is gone, but there is an onus on this committee to ensure her work is not in vain.
I would also like to be associated with the Chairman's remarks. It was unfortunate that this decision was taken, but she had done a huge amount of work in a very short period of time. As other speakers have said, it is important that we ensure this work is seen through.
It is important, as Deputies Conway and Kelleher noted, that we as a committee continue with the work on alcohol policy. We will make sure the legacy of the former Minister of State is a very strong piece of legislation from the Government regarding alcohol. It is regrettable that today an alcohol company is hijacking Irish society on the basis of the name of its product. It is incumbent on us to promote the reasonable consumption of alcohol. Today is not a day to be celebrating something in particular; rather, it is a day on which we should be asking all members of the public to drink sensibly and consume alcohol within reason. We need to have a wider debate about how a drinks company can suddenly promote a particular day with the aim of selling alcohol. I very much regret that this has been allowed to happen.
There is a motion before us in the name of Deputy Dowds that we took from last week's meeting.
There are two reasons it is particularly appropriate that this motion be moved today. First, it is an expression of our gratitude to the former Minister of State, Deputy Shortall; and second, it is a contrast to what Diageo is doing today in promoting its particular product. I thank people from across the political spectrum for supporting it.
That the Joint Committee on Health and Children call on the Cabinet to bring the sale of alcohol Bill before the Oireachtas as quickly as possible.