Thursday, 5 July 2018
Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
We were discussing a grouping of amendments, amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive. We had concluded discussing amendment No. 2 and amendment No. 3 is in the name of Deputy Clare Daly.
Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, relate to the necessity of the tour restriction for off-sales which we believe is unworkable and we want it removed. My amendment No. 3, which is basically the same as Deputy Kelly's amendment No. 2, is to bring Report Stage in keeping with the view on Committee Stage. This is not about having a rival organisation to public houses or anything like that. There are only 62 production micro-breweries in the country. They are having a difficult enough time making ends meet. They produce a tiny percentage of the beer being consumed in the country, but from the way in which the legislation is being put forward now, one would think they were setting themselves up as a rival to Diageo. We do not accept that. Diageo and the big vintners can sell their products in pubs and supermarkets. What is being sought in these amendments is that these small fledgling indigenous industries will be given a fair crack of the whip and be allowed engage in off-sales without the restriction of having to provide a tour each time.
It is important to say my amendment will do away with the necessity of the brewery tour restriction, which is unenforceable. I will not repeat the points made by Deputy Wallace last night but it is unenforceable, useless and not necessary. Many people who love beer and the idea of micro-brewery production will be happy to do the tour voluntarily, but this amendment removes the requirement obligation to have the tour as part of an off-sale purchase.
I support amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, which relate largely to the restriction on sales being linked to a tour, about which I spoke briefly on Committee Stage. The proposal in the amendment is sensible. In recent years we had the positive stories of many small businesses in rural areas that have developed their own food products and organic foods, including cheeses, honey and so on. People will visit these places to obtain those products. Many of these small breweries are quite small businesses. They need whatever supports and opportunities are available to them. People should be in a position where they can travel to these breweries and distilleries and purchase the product. The products may not be widely available in supermarkets. There may be a small selection of shops in which they can be bought. Therefore, the obvious place to buy these products is at the brewery or the distillery, which can only sell their own products.
It is not reasonable to suggest, as was done on Committee Stage, that this would be an alternative form of licensing for licensed premises as a result of which there may be unintended consequences. The objective in the amendment is sensible. As Deputy Wallace outlined, the idea that we could properly enforce the obligation to provide a tour is not reasonable. These businesses deserve the opportunity to sell their own wares. That would be the case anywhere else in the world and they should be permitted to do that under this legislation.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on this Bill on behalf of Fianna Fáil and our spokesperson, Deputy O'Callaghan. The Bill's Title and that it is a 2016 Bill reflects the frustration of the micro-breweries in that many of them, certainly those in my constituency, have been champing at the bit in that regard and we had hoped this legislation would have been passed before the Houses adjourned for the summer recess last year.
We all accept the need to regulate the breweries and distilleries, but we also need to recognise that they create massive employment, certainly in my region. I cannot help but think of the late Dr. Pearse Lyons of Alltech who put the craft brewing industry on the map in Ireland. In my area alone we have the Carlingford Brewing Company, the Listoke Distillery and Gin School, the Dundalk Bay Brewing Company and our infamous Cooley Distillery. This speaks volumes about the huge opportunities for food trails. The Boyne Valley food trail has been hugely successful and these brewhouses and distilleries are part of that. Add in the opportunities for employment and tourism and it is a much heralded and needed industry in my region and across the State. Microbrewing is seven times more labour intensive than that of the larger operations. This helps to create further employment, especially in rural communities scattered across the country.
The Bill reflects the delay and I want to see this Bill passed. We are already reaching the height of the tourism season and another summer cannot be lost. I hope there will be full consensus in the House and that we can do justice to the industry before the early afternoon today.
While we are all cognisant of the need to reduce alcohol consumption the Bill is clearly not about promoting consumption. It aims to support the craft brewers and the distillers and to allow them an appropriate licence for the sale pursuant to such a licence of alcohol for consumption on their premises. As other Deputies have said, while the concept of having the tour of the brewery is all important I firmly believe in the need to allow people to buy on the premises without necessarily having taken the tour. I am quite sure that the Minister's Department officials are conscious of the regulations and know about the types of consumption on and off premises, but this provision would allow a purchase to be done with the singular visit and then people can obviously call back or recommend by word of mouth a place where people can buy quantities of the product that would not distort the market for the major players in this industry.
Having heard the debate in the Chamber last night on this group of amendments I expect there will be consensus across the House on Deputies Daly, Kelly and Wallace's amendments and we can get agreement on them. They are very close together.
I compliment Deputy Alan Kelly. I recall that this time last year the brewing companies right across the country met here in Dublin and were - for want of a better word - all brewed up in expectation that the Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 would happen this season. I do not believe we need to further delay it. I certainly commend the Bill. I hope we can get cross-party consensus for putting the Bill onto the Statue Book.
I commend Deputy Alan Kelly for bringing this Bill forward. I shall speak briefly on what is an excellent Bill. It is a great example, to an extent, of new politics and how parties can work together by bringing something small but significant to industry. We are aware that microbreweries are coming on in leaps and bounds. They are increasing in popularity, frequency and numbers. They fit into the wider trend of quality produce and food that is produced and consumed locally. It also feeds into the farmers' markets and artisan markets that sell the high quality food and drink products for which Ireland is developing a reputation. It feeds into our tourism strategy and local enjoyment. It goes hand in hand with our wider tourism offering such as the Wild Atlantic Way and the Royal Canal Way. On Monday I attended a launch of another stretch of the Royal Canal Way in Maynooth and there are hopes to develop such a scheme on the Grand Canal also. This all ties into the whole idea of using attractions to bring people into an area. People can walk, hike and cycle to the area and then stop for a beer and sample some local food at the end of their day and perhaps visit a microbrewery. It is all part of the same experience and it is a very positive trend.
Fianna Fáil supports the Bill and the amendments. Our former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, introduced measures favourable to the industry. When he was the Minister for Finance he started the microbrewery wave by introducing favourable tax treatment. By chance I recently spoke with a gentleman who had worked in the printing room at the Department of Finance. He was tasked with printing the budget each year. He was in the role for a number of decades and although different Ministers for Finance came and went, at each budget it was traditional that he would receive a small memento. It usually signified as an element of the budget. If the pensions were increased this man would get a little note, or card or a book to mark the budget. When the budget went through with the tax measure for microbreweries he was given a bottle of beer as a celebration of that Finance Bill, which turbo charged the microbrewery industry. I believe he has not opened it, so it is still fermenting in Kilcock where he lives. I thought this was very interesting.
The Bill is a positive measure. The microbrewery trend is growing rapidly. In my constituency we have Trouble Brewing in Kill and the Kildare Brewing Company at Lock 13 in Sallins, which has a greenway right outside its door. The whole offering at the Kildare Brewing Company at Lock 13 is designed to bring people in for a tour. They can cycle their bikes, park up and get some food. After they eat they can visit the brewery. They have a brewery tour in operation but they cannot yet sell the beer. I know they are looking forward with great excitement to this Bill being passed. We also have Rye River Brewing Company in Celbridge, Kelly's Mountain Brew in Clane and I am aware that the Dew Drop in Kill is also looking to develop its own microbrewery on site. It really is a trend that is taking off and developing rapidly.
I commend the Ceann Comhairle on the showcase of Irish food that was held in the restaurant last night. The Ceann Comhairle played a big part in organising it and it was an excellent evening. It was a great idea and a great initiative. Perhaps on the next occasion craft beer or wines will be in the spotlight. We might showcase those and give the industry a boost.
I agree with the Deputies' comments on the importance of this legislation. I acknowledge again the leadership of Deputy Alan Kelly in this. Like the other Members, I hope we can have an early passage of the Bill. The early afternoon was mentioned by Deputy Breathnach. Let us see what we can do.
At the outset I must make it clear that I will not accept the amendments tabled by Deputies Daly, Kelly and Wallace. I invite Deputy Breathnach, who spoke so eloquently about the Bill, to agree with me that amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, seek to change fundamentally the scope and purpose of the Bill.
When the Bill was introduced last year the proposer made it clear that the purpose of the Bill was to permit craft breweries and distilleries to sell their own products to visitors and tourists. The tourism aspect was stressed and it has been a common theme throughout this debate that manufacturers wanted to offer a tourism experience to tourists and visitors. At the time the proposer drew an unfavourable comparison between the strict licensing laws applicable to premises in Ireland that manufacture alcohol products, which prohibit retail sales to visitors and tourists, and the relaxed rules applicable, for example, in the vineyards of Italy, France and Spain. The Government accepted Deputy Kelly's Bill and provided the necessary money message on that basis. We now see that the Deputies have tabled amendments that would, in effect, create a new form of off-licence that would permit the sale of intoxicating liquor produced on the premises to any member of the public. It would no longer be necessary for the purchaser of such liquor to have participated in a visit or tour of the premises. There are some 170 manufacturing licences in operation currently.
The amendment's fundamental change risks defeating the key objective of the new licence and would permit licence holders to concentrate on selling their products to the public rather than on providing facilities for tourists and visitors to participate in guided tours of the premises. This was something of an amusing matter last evening, but there is a serious aspect to it, in that the generation of unfair trading conditions for other licence holders could create new risks to public order arising from the public consumption of alcohol products in the vicinity of what is described in the Bill as manufacturing premises. Amendment No. 1 would dispense with the requirement that the applicant for a licence must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court that an appropriate mechanism is in place to restrict the sale of intoxicating liquor produced on the premises to those who have completed a visit or tour of the premises. For the reason I have outlined, this is not acceptable.
Amendment No. 2 would retain the guided tour condition for on-sales, namely, sales for consumption on the premises, but it would not apply in the case of off-sales. That is a problem and not acceptable. It would allow an applicant for a licence to circumvent the guided tour condition altogether where the intention was to concentrate on off-sales. In effect, there would not be a contribution to tourism and the premises would be a new form of off-licence.
Similar to amendment No. 2, since it would confine the guided tour condition to on-sales, amendment No. 3 in the name of Deputy Clare Daly would permit off-sales to any member of the public. We had a considerable debate on these issues on Committee Stage. In the light of that debate and having examined the amendments, they are not acceptable for these reasons.
The Minister's comments are unfortunate. In essence, there is a certain rewriting of history. The Minister seems to have skipped over the entirety of the Committee Stage debate, when we added to the discussion on Second Stage and fine-tuned the Bill. There was agreement across all parties that we should advance in a modest way to elevate the tourism aspect since many craft beer drinkers like the tourism experience. My amendment would still require them to take the tour if they wanted to consume or taste a beverage on site. It would only remove the tour in the case of off-sales. I will not repeat our discussion on Committee Stage when we debated the matter at length and the overwhelming majority of members agreed. Busloads of people will not travel from Dublin to a craft brewery in County Tipperary or the like to stock up on drink. We are talking about local people who want to drop in, sample a local creation and bring home a few beers to drink.
On the idea that it would constitute unfair trading conditions, the premises would only be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. I hope it will be 7 p.m., but that is a debate for later. Most people will be at work during these hours. The idea that someone dropping in to buy a bottle or two of beer on his or her way home from work to drink it in his or her sitting room will lead to anti-social behaviour and marauding gangs of drunks stampeding across the countryside is ludicrous.
We are at the end of term. Despite having discussed the matter at length on Committee Stage, the Minister seems to have written out the middle part of the debate. Tourism and craft breweries are protected. The amendment would merely facilitate the person who wants to drop in to buy a six-pack or whatever else after work by not requiring him or her to go through the charade of taking a tour.
It is disappointing that the Minister has shown so little respect for the committee, although this is not the first time it has happened - so much for new politics. The idea of a cross-party consensus on legislation must be positive. With the exception of the Minister, just about everyone at the committee was on the same wavelength about facilitating microbreweries to grow. In the light of the notion that the Minister is prepared to fight lock, stock and barrel for Diageo, I could be forgiven for suspecting that he has shares in the company.
Amendment No. 1 would do away with the tour requirement. Even though we would probably win the vote, I am prepared not to push it in the interests of consensus and harmony and the hope the Minister will see sanity and allow off-sales to proceed without the tour requirement and the premises to stay open until 7 p.m. rather than 6 p.m. The earlier time is ridiculous, but we can debate that point later. We are being reasonable. We do not believe microbreweries will be any threat to Diageo, other large breweries or pubs. The amendment would help small industry.
To be fair, the Minister is a supporter of the breweries. The people involved in the 12 Acres Brewing Company have said so. Having listened to what was discussed on Committee Stage, the breweries and, to be honest, what our colleagues in the House have been telling us, we are trying to improve the legislation. This is a small Bill which I was glad to sponsor. I thank the Minister's colleagues in his Department for working with me on it. We need to get it through the Seanad by the week after next in order that it can have an impact on the hundreds of jobs affected in many parts of rural Ireland, a number that has the potential to grow into the thousands.
I thank Deputy Mick Wallace for the compromise which would see the House accepting amendment No. 2 in my name - Deputy Clare Daly and I have similar amendments - to allow for off-sales. It combines with amendment No. 6. I will accept Deputy Clare Daly's amendment to my amendment on a closing time of 7 p.m.
This is common sense. The Minister goes to his local brewery and I go to mine. There are four in County Tipperary. I could go to the White Gypsy Brewery or the like on a Friday evening and pick up a six-pack for a barbecue at the weekend. I have been there 20 times and I am hardly going to take a tour every time I go back just to buy a box of my favourite beer. It would not make sense. I ask the Minister to accept the amendment. All we are doing is accepting his amendments by changing the Bill to allow off-sales to locals which will be modest in scope without also having to take a tour. Taking a tour would remain a requirement for on-sales. The finishing time would also be changed to 7 p.m. I hope we can send the Bill to the Seanad next week - the Leader of the Upper House, Senator Jerry Buttimer, has been facilitatory - and allow the industry to grow.
The compromise would allow for the establishments' progression and profitability. Having visited quite a number of them, particularly while on holiday abroad, I have yet to see people overindulge. Those who buy from them, be they on a tour or otherwise, certainly leave the premises in a state of sobriety.
The Minister has raised an issue with the neighbourhood and the suitability of the premises, but it would be addressed in the licensing process. A licence can be refused on "the grounds of the character, misconduct or unfitness of the applicant or of the unfitness or inconvenience of the premises" or the unsuitability of the premises to the needs of persons residing in the neighbourhood. I dare say some of the other licensed premises can be obstreperous at the best of times.
We have said politics is about the art of compromise, but it is equally about reaching a consensus to facilitate this change. I agree with Deputy Alan Kelly that the off-sales aspect can be controlled by the Minister at any stage. The words, "This pack is not to be opened on the premises", could be printed on it. I was not at the committee, but I am sure, outside the legislation, the Minister is capable of reaching agreement. If people visit as tourists, they will sign a book or buy a ticket. Those who visit to collect could simply sign that they would not avail of it on the premises. There could be a little smartness too. They could view the tour on a CD or link. We are picking at crumbs when we should have the legislation passed to let the breweries to progress and move towards profitability. The amendments could be dealt with quickly with a compromise on the part of the Minister.
I am in the hands of the House, but I have to say I am not of a mind to create a new form of off-licence. The sale and distribution of a restricted substance, alcohol, fall within the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality. There is other, not unrelated, legislation, the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, of which I have heard Deputies in the House who are speaking in favour of this Bill speak in favour. There is a contradiction in terms-----
-----if I am being asked to relax the law and allow a new form of off-licence throughout the country. Deputy Declan Breathnach speaks about tourism. He is right that the basis of the Bill is to facilitate the tourism industry. Deputy Alan Kelly speaks about locals and others dropping out on a Friday night to buy a six-pack.
They are not tourists. Deputy Mick Wallace speaks about opening up craft breweries for off-sales. I acknowledge the spirit of co-operation. It is a Private Members' Bill and I defer to Deputy Alan Kelly on his initiative. I am supportive of the Bill and it is wrong of Deputy Mick Wallace to suggest I do not support it. It is also wrong of him to suggest I have a vested interest by way of having shares in any drinks or alcohol company. I do not.
I make that clear. I hope that by making it clear Deputy Mick Wallace and any other Deputy will make their positions utterly clear too. I am not of a mind to accept the amendments. If people are looking for a compromise, under Dáil procedure, it is not possible to pick and choose certain words from different amendments in the way that has been put to me in order that I might consider a certain aspect of one amendment and another aspect of another. Procedurally, that is not procedurally. I will have an opportunity in the Seanad next week and will be happy to reflect on how best we can incorporate the compromise about which Deputy Declan Breathnach speaks. However, I will not open a new scheme or arrangement or introduce a new off-licence regime, but if the House decides otherwise, I will be in its hands. As I said, I will not open in this manner a new licensing regime which will allow for the sale and distribution of intoxicating liquor for consumption off the premises. Two of the buildings or breweries of which we are speaking are in my constituency. I support them fully, having visited and sampled the product, both on and off the premises. I refer to Ballykilcavan Brewery in Stradbally and the Twelve Acres Brewery in Killeshin in south County Laois.
I recognise the importance of craft breweries for a number of reasons, not least the provision of employment, the production, marketing, sale and distribution of excellent Irish product, as well as that of the tourism industry. I do not think it was ever the intention that this tourism-prompted Bill would, in effect, lead to a new off-licence regime, particularly in places where many pubs in close proximity are struggling, in both rural and urban areas. I will not introduce a new element in the licensing code.
It is unfair to say we would be opening up a new regime of off-licences. The breweries would only be allowed to sell their own beer. The Minister seems to have no problem with thousands of supermarkets all over Ireland being able to sell hundreds of beers and spirits, but he has a problem with 62 microbreweries having the potential to sell their own product. How would that make them off-licences, if they could only sell the product they make themselves? There is no comparison. The Minister is being a little unfair. I ask him to reconsider and look at the matter again. He should have a couple of good craft beers over the weekend and reconsider his position.
On the tourism element, if the Minister checks the record of proceedings at the committee, he will find that we were not confining our argument to breweries selling to tourists. Of course, it could boost the tourism industry, but it could also give the small microbreweries an opportunity to survive. It is not easy to survive against the big boys. They are indigenous. None of the big boys is Irish. Their profits do not stay in Ireland but go elsewhere. We want to help small, indigenous Irish industries in the microbrewery game to give them a chance to survive.
We have been joined by Deputies Michael Collins and Danny Healy-Rae who want to contribute. As we are all anxious to progress the legislation, I ask that the Deputies' contributions be brief.
We have a serious problem in this country in getting carried away as if we are all raging alcohols and lunatics. Microbreweries will find it hard to survive. I recently visited one under construction in Clonakilty, Clonakilty Brewing Company, where an individual pointed out to me that the opportunity to bring tourits to west Cork was phenomenal. This is moving away slightly from what we are talking about, but there was an advertisement on the window of the high-rise building in which the company was located. The person concerned was not allowed to advertise his company if there was a play school or any school within a certain distance of the building. We get too carried away. Children in play schools are not running up to a brewery or a pub for pint bottles. I have a conflict of interest up to a point since my brothers have pubs in west Cork, but that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about microbreweries. As others have done, I ask the Minister to reconsider to ensure their survival. When a person visits a microbrewery, if he or she wants wants to do so, he or she should have the opportunity to purchase its product or products.
The House has to pull back a small bit from the hang-up about alcohol it has shown for the past 12 or 18 months. Most of the people I hear giving out about drinking alcohol are drinking a bottle or two of wine every night at home. God only knows how much over the limit they are the next morning. If the blood alcohol limit was set at zero, the very people who are telling us we are doing the wrong thing would be caught. I would appreciate if the Minister gave serious consideration to the amendment.
I support the call for microbreweries to be allowed sell their product to visitors. We have wonderful breweries in Killarney such as Killarney Brewing and we also have the Dingle Distillery, which produces Dingle gin among other products. It is an attraction for tourists to visit such places and it makes sense to allow them to buy a sample and take it away with them. Are the brewers supposed to tell tourists to go down the street or go to the next town?
The Minister should not say I am not in favour of the rural pub. I want to tell him about the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. Today, there was another serious accident at Glenflesk Church. Seeing as he has been mentioned, I call on the Minister, Deputy Ross, to resign because of what happened today.
Yes, we will, a Cheann Comhairle. Microbreweries are a new phenomenon and an addition to our tourism attractions. It does not make any sense to try to stop people buying an amount of alcohol to take away with them.
I urge the Minister to reach a compromise between Deputy Clare Daly's amendment and Deputy Alan Kelly's amendment. I accept there are three amendments in the group. We need to be understanding of the specialised nature of the beer involved. The fellow who goes to the pub every night is not drinking this type of beer every night of the week. As Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said, they are basically two different set-ups. The anomaly Deputy Wallace pointed out in the case of a person going in for a six-pack every week must be addressed. It is nearly a laugh the way it is structured currently. We need to compromise along the lines proposed by Deputy Clare Daly and Deputy Kelly in order to solve the issue so that people can do a tour and stay for a drink. Craft beer is specialised. People will have it with a meal, rather than drinking 20 pints of it.
They would need to have very deep pockets. The Dáil should not leave such an anomaly in legislation. If someone wants to go once a week to a microbrewery to get a six-pack of beer, he or she should not have to do a tour.
However, if someone wants to spend some time in a microbrewery and have a drink, he or she should be required to do a tour. We should be able to work out a common-sense approach. I support the amendments and I commend Deputy Kelly on his Bill.
We have microbreweries in Roscommon as well. They give employment to areas that may not have the same level of employment that is available in other areas. It is great to see craft beer being exported. In Roscommon we have the Black Donkey Brewery and it exports beer to Russia and other countries. That is great to see. Farmers get a top price in Australia for a certain type of grain that is being used for brewing. If Teagasc could do research to come up with a specialised mix that would be unique, it would be good both for those in the community who might be able to grow a few acres of it and the brewery that would use the grain.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 3, to delete lines 15 to 17 and substitute the following:"(b) an appropriate mechanism is in place to restrict the sale pursuant to a licence granted under this section of intoxicating liquor on the premises, for consumption on the premises, to persons who have completed a guided tour of the premises,".
Gerry Adams, Bobby Aylward, Richard Boyd Barrett, John Brady, Declan Breathnach, Tommy Broughan, James Browne, Pat Buckley, Joan Burton, Mary Butler, Jackie Cahill, Dara Calleary, Shane Cassells, Michael Collins, Barry Cowen, John Curran, Clare Daly, Stephen Donnelly, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Michael Fitzmaurice, Noel Grealish, Michael Harty, Seán Haughey, Danny Healy-Rae, Séamus Healy, Brendan Howlin, Billy Kelleher, Alan Kelly, Martin Kenny, John Lahart, James Lawless, Catherine Martin, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Denise Mitchell, Aindrias Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Imelda Munster, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony, Eugene Murphy, Carol Nolan, Darragh O'Brien, Kevin O'Keeffe, Louise O'Reilly, Frank O'Rourke, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Eoin Ó Broin, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Willie Penrose, Maurice Quinlivan, Eamon Ryan, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Bríd Smith, Niamh Smyth, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín, Mick Wallace.
Pat Breen, Colm Brophy, Richard Bruton, Peter Burke, Catherine Byrne, Seán Canney, Ciarán Cannon, Joe Carey, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Simon Coveney, Michael D'Arcy, Jim Daly, John Deasy, Pat Deering, Regina Doherty, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Alan Farrell, Charles Flanagan, Brendan Griffin, Simon Harris, Heather Humphreys, Seán Kyne, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Kevin Moran, Denis Naughten, Hildegarde Naughton, Tom Neville, Kate O'Connell, Patrick O'Donovan, Fergus O'Dowd, John Paul Phelan, Michael Ring, Noel Rock, Shane Ross, David Stanton.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 3, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:
“(3) A licence issued by the Revenue Commissioners in accordance with subsection (2)—(a) shall expire at midnight on the next following 30 September after the commencement of the period to which the licence relates, and
(b) may be renewed.”.
The Revenue Commissioners have requested the inclusion of a new subsection which clarifies that licences issued under this legislation will expire on 30 September each year and are renewable. This is a standard provision since intoxicating liquor licences expire on 30 September each year. Under the 1986 legislation licences are renewed on an automatic basis by the Revenue Commissioners unless there is an objection to the renewal and that objection has been formally lodged with the District Court on the basis that the premises, during the preceding year, has not been operated in an orderly or peaceable manner. I put it to Members that it is a standard provision in line with all similar provisions that apply to the sale of intoxicating liquor.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 4, to delete line 2 and substitute “relevant licence, Wine Retailers On Licence and Restaurant Certificate, shall be extinguished.”.
The Government argues that the purpose of this limitation is to prevent abuses and distortions of competition between categories of licensed premises. Currently, some public houses contain a brewery and operate on the basis of their public house licence, including permitted trading hours. If such premises could operate simultaneously on the basis of the proposed new retail licence for holders of manufacturing licences, they would be in a position to sell intoxicating liquor during hours outside of what we are in the process of agreeing. I am prepared to withdraw the amendment, therefore, in the interest of conciliation.
Amendment No. 6 is in the name of Deputy Alan Kelly. Amendments Nos. 6 to 10, inclusive, are related, amendments Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, are physical alternatives to amendment No. 6 and amendments Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive, are physical alternatives to amendment No. 7. Amendments Nos. 6 to 10, inclusive, may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 6:
In page 4, to delete lines 3 to 12 and substitute the following:
“(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018, a licence issued or renewed under this section shall operate to authorise, between the hours of 10.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. each day other than Christmas Day, the sale on the premises to which the licence is attached of intoxicating liquor manufactured in accordance with a relevant licence on the premises—(a) to persons who have completed a guided tour of the premises—(i) for consumption on or off the premises, where the certificate referred to in subsection (1) has been granted by the Circuit Court, or(b) to persons other than those referred to in paragraph (a) for consumption off the relevant premises, where the certificate referred to in subsection (1) has been granted by the Circuit Court or the District Court.”.
(ii) for consumption off the relevant premises where the certificate referred to in subsection (1) has been granted by the District Court,
This amendment is a substitute for what is already in the sectionthat will allow for the consumption off premises - off-sales - as outlined in the previous amendment we voted on, amendment No. 2. It will follow through on that byinserting "(b) to persons other than those referred to in paragraph (a)for consumption off the relevant premises, where the certificate referred to in subsection (1)has been granted by the Circuit Court or the District Court". This provision is to ensure that this part of the Bill allows that to happen.
If it is possible, and I hope it is followingdiscussion, I am agreeable to changing the 10 a.m. to 6 p.m in this amendment tobe 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. as proposed in Deputy Clare Daly's amendment No. 8. I understand that has to be done with the permission of the Ceann Comhairle and if it is allowable. I would be agreeable to Deputy Daly's amendment No. 8 amending my amendment No. 6 to facilitate that.
I echo the point made by Deputy Kelly. My amendment complements his amendment No. 6. The two can be married, as it were, and succeed in having the outcome sought by the Select Committee on Justice and Equality. I recall the Fine Gael members on the committee were very vocal also in recommending that the facility would be allowed remain open until 7 p.m. It is a practical issue in terms of where these sites are located. Leaving it at 6 p.m. is somewhat restrictive for people who are in work whereas if we change it to 7 p.m. there will not be gangs of people sitting around competing with the pubs, which seems to be the Minister's concern. The two amendments fit neatly together and, with the agreement of the House, we can agree amendments Nos. 6 and 8 and then have the position which was agreed by the Select Committee on Justice and Equality.
To echo Deputy Daly's points, if we had left the closing time at 6 p.m. we would have been confining the craft breweries to having an opportunity to sell their products on their premises at the weekends because not many people would get to them before 6 p.m. of a weekday, given that the majority of people in the country do work.
My amendment No. 7 is linked to the theme in amendment No. 1, which I withdrew to try to keep the Minister sweet. Rather than seeking to abolish tours, which I sought in amendment No. 1, amendment No. 7, which proposes extending the opening hours to 7 p.m., also incorporates the fact that the tour would be removed. Despite the fact that I still insist it is poor legislation, in the interests of peace I agreed to withdraw amendment No. 1, so I will also withdraw amendment No. 7.
He is withdrawing amendment No. 7.
I am advised it is in order for Deputy Daly's amendment No. 8 to be moved as an amendment to Deputy Kelly's amendment No. 6 but she must first move it and the House must be prepared to accept it.
-----in the matter of this tourism initiative. I stated earlier, and I restate strongly now, that I am not minded to opening up a new category of off-licence in the State. I say that with particular reference to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and the utterances, and the disposition, of Members of all parties in this House. I am surprised at the contradictions in the parties' positions on these two Bills. I am being asked to liberalise the off-licence regime on the one hand and, on the other hand, my colleague, the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, is being exhorted to control and restrict the sale of alcohol.
I see a contradiction in that and am surprised that Members opposite do not appear to see it.
Amendment No. 6 seeks to extend the scope of the Bill to permit off sales to members of the public who have not participated in a tour of the premises, in other words, drop-in sales, the picking up of the few six-packs, not by tourists. I do not know any tourists who are going to drop by on a Friday evening and pick up a few six-packs for the lads for the party or the stag, or whatever is being conducted in the parish that weekend. I am not inclined to extend the scope of the Bill to facilitate such sales.
Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 by Deputy Clare Daly have a similar purpose. They are not acceptable because to my mind they depart from the core purpose of the Bill, which is to facilitate tourists and the tourism industry, like the experience Deputy Breathnach has described abroad, although not in Dundalk or north Louth.
Amendment No. 7 has been withdrawn and there is something of a composite proposal which has met with the Ceann Comhairle's approval. I am conscious of the fact that his approval was given to a number of amendments in recent times that did not transpire to be what on the face of it they should have been.
Amendment No. 8, tabled by Deputies Wallace and Daly-----
I am talking about Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, which is currently going through the Seanad and dealing with a series of amendments that were ruled out of order under controversial circumstances here late one night.
Amendment No. 8 proposes extending the hours from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. We discussed this on Second Stage and Committee Stage. There was broad support for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. as proposed by Deputy Alan Kelly. Were I to accept the amendment, although I am not minded to do so, I am conscious of a contradiction that appears under section 1(5) of the Bill, permitting sales between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day other than Christmas Day to persons who have completed a guided tour of the premises provided that the liquor was manufactured in accordance with the relevant licence. It is not as simple as changing the time from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. We are still left with the issue of the tour. I will have a look at it between now and the Seanad, if the House is disposed to allow me such reflection. If it is just an issue of extending the trading hours to 7 p.m. and if the House is minded to say to me that there appears to be consensus on the matter, I will have a look at it without dividing the House. I say that, however, having regard to the fact that the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. appear to me to cater for the needs of tourists and visitors. It might not cater for Deputy Kelly's local lads in the car loading up the boot with six-packs on a Friday evening, especially if they are coming from work, especially if they are travelling to rural Tipperary. I will have a look at it if it is just a matter of 60 minutes. I want to make sure there are not any contradictions in the Bill so I am not prepared to accept the composite proposal that is before the House. I also want to refer to the working hours of the staff and what that will mean. I am assuming that is an issue that can be managed in the microbreweries.
The Minister has referred a number of times to a perceived conflict with the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. I am a supporter of that Bill and keen to see it progressed. It is focused on tackling the visibility of alcohol in ordinary retail and issues in respect of sponsorship, and on reducing the general visibility of alcohol and the exposure of young and vulnerable people to alcohol. This is a very different matter. I doubt that even professionals in public health who are lobbying for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill would express much opposition to the legislation before us today. It is a very sensible and reasonable proposition that the location producing these goods should be allowed to sell them, as it would with any other food product. It is not a very expansive series of products but just whatever products they are producing themselves. I reject the idea that there is any contradiction between supporting these very modest and sensible proposals and the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which is very important legislation that I want to see progressed. I do not think anybody would see a contradiction.
I also find it amusing that the Minister would conflate the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill with the craft beer Bill. I understand the health Bill is seeking to tackle abuse of alcohol in the country. I can assure the Minister that the more craft beer we make and sell in competition with the big boys like Diageo, the more of a positive step it will be health-wise. Craft beer is much better for our health than the chemical beers made by the big brewers. Craft beer drinkers are consuming a much better product and consume a lot less of it because it is not possible to drink anything like the same quantities as there is far more substance to craft beer. From a health point of view, the Government should promote craft beer a lot more than is achieved by the measures we are discussing today.
On the issue of tourism and the idea that the tourists will be sorted by 6 p.m. in the brewery, would the Minister also suggest that they will be sorted in the supermarkets for take-out after 6 p.m.? Maybe we should stop the tourists buying alcohol in supermarkets after 6 p.m. and likewise tell them they need to get all their beer before 6 p.m. in the pubs. It seems an irrational argument.
I am not going to go to the space of the Minister's comment on the Judicial Appointments Bill. The Ceann Comhairle will be well able to look after himself on that matter. I am 100% certain he has right on his side.
The Minister talks about this legislation being moved solely for the purpose of tourism. He is ignoring entirely the discussions that took place at the justice committee, which not only recognised the role craft breweries could play in assisting tourism but also acknowledged that the measures we are proposing are being put forward to help small, indigenous Irish industry, particularly in rural Ireland where it is badly needed. That was the motivating force behind it. I do not recall anybody at the justice committee saying this was only about tourism. It was about assisting microbreweries also.
The Minister said he would have a look at the amendment and would not divide the House if it is only an hour. The Minister is dividing the House. The whole justice committee, including members from Fine Gael, favoured a 7 p.m. finish as being practical.
I will not repeat those points. We were already there so the Minister is the one who is bringing it back. The Minister is asking us not to divide the House. He is the one who is dividing the House because everybody else had already agreed at the Committee on Justice and Equality that 7 p.m. was more sensible for all the other reasons stated. In deference to the fact that the Minister has at last acknowledged that 60 minutes do not make that much difference anyway, I would expect that my amendment and that of Deputy Kelly would be agreed to on that basis.
For the record in case there was any inference, which I found a bit unacceptable, that some sort of sleight of hand procedurally was happening or that people had not checked the procedures, our offices contacted the Bills Office to make sure that what was being put forward was procedurally in order and that everything was being done appropriately. We received that seal of approval regarding the manner in which we would do our business so any claim that there is something underhand here is very unbecoming and I believe the Minister should withdraw that.
I spoke about having this Bill passed before the early afternoon. I think we are getting into the evening. Despite the fact that I have tasted the product abroad, I assure the Minister that I have visited Cooley Distillery and have partaken of the bespoke gin. Equally, I have brought people from Kentucky, the home of bourbon, to taste the flavours of my own constituency. While I am not an expert on these things, I do believe in local tourism and supporting rural industry. I do accept that the Minister has a query regarding section 1(5) where it does mention 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. I understand where the Minister is coming from. I am sure he will find it unusual that I am supporting Deputies Clare Daly and Wallace, not to mention Deputy Kelly, but I think the Minister can sense the consensus that exists and I would expect him to do what is right. When it comes to tourism, which is what I have been speaking about, 6 p.m., particularly on a summer's evening, is not the end of the day for any tourist who would like to visit these premises.
We seem to be comparing mass production of these products to craft and artisan producers. I do not perceive that Deputy Kelly's friends would be traipsing down and using an artisan brewery as an off-licence, which is what has been suggested. A bit like the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I think they would head for the Dutch Gold. We remember that on the Luas not too long ago. When I say that, I jest.
My final point concerns support for agriculture. This is not just about the craft brewery. It is about the production of barley. Somebody referred earlier to the food event last night which I attended and where we were provided with Irish wine. People who are using their brains are starting to look at mixing, dare I say it, parsnips and some other product into various forms of alcohol. If this is to help the renewal and continuation of rural industry and jobs, I implore the Minister to accept the spirit of glasnost, as has often been referred to, that exists in this House with regard to furthering the tourism industry and local business.
When one looks at where breweries are situated around the country, in many cases they are in small rural villages or townlands. It involves people who believe in something and who probably had very little money. In fairness, in some cases, the local enterprise offices help them, but in other cases, these people followed their passion, kept their belief, saw their goal and went for it. We should pursue any way we can to help them to prosper and to encourage entrepreneurship around this country every day of the week. As was rightly pointed out yesterday evening, we should talk to the companies. I spoke to a Galway oyster company that faces problem getting certification from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to export its goods. That is the problem in this country. Someone like Larry Goodman will get it that day because they will get a vet in their place but a small operator must drive to Dublin and it could take eight or nine days. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine should address that. We must look at the type of barley we grow and the mixes. We could come up with something great that everyone around the world and tourists would like. That is what creates an economy, pays taxes and keeps the country going.
In respect of the comments about the Ceann Comhairle ruling matters in or out of order, he is as fair a Ceann Comhairle as we can get. It is not great to say that he is ruling things in or out of order. I do not know really what was being said. I cannot understand it but I think it should be clarified because, in fairness, it is the team behind the Ceann Comhairle that makes the decision. The Ceann Comhairle will not see every last sentence. He helps all of us as best he can in terms of getting speaking time.
I thank Deputy Kelly for pursuing this issue from day one. It is a welcome initiative. There are many positive things relating to rural Ireland in particular, including job creation, encouraging more tourism in rural Ireland and, it is hoped, securing grain production in many parts of this country, which is at an all-time low, especially in the area of prices. I see that one distillery in Donegal was offering premium prices for grain to get farmers back into the grain-growing business.
It is a known fact that the majority of the micro-breweries and distilleries have come from County Cork. My own backyard has the success story of the Eight Degrees Brewing Company. We should be positive in this legislation. I ask the Minister to accept it in its wholeness. I agree that opening hours should be restricted because otherwise we will have house parties moving into breweries as opposed to supporting local pubs. It is very important to keep the latter business going as well. One will have competition as well. It is a well-thought-out initiative that should be supported wholeheartedly.
I have mentioned the Eight Degrees Brewing Company. I am on the border of the River Blackwater in the constituency of Waterford. Ballyduff is a very isolated rural village near the Blackwater in west Waterford whose boundary is almost in my constituency. Blackwater Distillery has purchased an old premises in the middle of that village, is moving its business there and hopes to go into production soon. In fairness to the Government, various agencies have given great support in the form of funding, which must be welcome. Places like this need this kind of industry to survive. We talk about town and village centres losing their identity but here is an initiative by individuals who have the heart of rural Ireland in mind and are prepared to keep their business in rural Ireland, and we need to help them. One way of helping them is allowing them to have a facility where tourists and other interested people can go on site, view and see how the product is produced, as people can do in the Jameson Distillery, in Midleton or the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, but on a smaller scale.
One of the only reasons I ever came home from abroad with more than half a dozen bottles of wine was after visiting the vineyards there. Of course, I would not own one, like Deputy Mick Wallace does. I am sure he will invite me to his vineyard one day.
Will he get me a visa? I commend Deputy Alan Kelly on putting forward the Bill and I ask the Government to give it wholehearted support. While we need to put regulations, licences and rules in place, the overall thrust of the Bill should be accepted.
Deputy Wallace has withdrawn amendment No. 7 so it does not fall to be considered, nor does amendment No. 8. Amendment No. 9 cannot be considered now, nor can amendment No. 10.
I move amendment No. 11:
In page 4, line 20, to delete “intoxicating liquor,” and substitute “intoxicating liquor, or who permits the sale of intoxicating liquor,”.
These amendments extend the existing offence provisions in subsections (8) and (9) of section 1 to include persons who permit the sale of intoxicating liquor contrary to the conditions of the licence. This means a licenceholder will not be in a position to evade liability if he or she permits a staff member to sell intoxicating liquor in a way that may be contrary to the conditions of the licence. Again, I invite Members to accept this on the basis that it is a standard provision in legislation of this nature.
I move amendment No. 13:
In page 4, between lines 40 and 41, to insert the following:
““guided tour”, in relation to a relevant premises, means a tour of the premises that—
(a) includes an explanation of, or information relating to, the process whereby the intoxicating liquor is manufactured on the premises in accordance with a relevant licence,
(b) is carried out in person, whether the tour is guided by another person or not, and
(c) requires a ticket to be issued to the person participating in the tour, whether a fee is paid for the ticket or not;”.
I refer back to discussions at the select committee. Arising out of those discussions, this amendment proposes to insert a definition of "guided tour" into section 1(10). I was interested to hear Deputy O'Keeffe speak about the tourism industry with particular reference to the visitor centres in his constituency, such as at Midleton, as well as the Guinness Hop Store. Of course, the central feature of visits to these centres is the guided tour. In fact, I believe the Guinness Hop Store is the No. 1 visitor centre in the country.
The central features of the definition are as follows. The tour must include an explanation of, or information on, the process whereby the intoxicating liquor is manufactured. It does not necessarily require a physical inspection of parts of the premises that might present a risk to the health or safety of individuals. Indeed, Deputy Wallace made reference to this on Committee Stage and I accept the point he makes. Deputy Kelly has made the point all along that many of the visitor centres, such as craft breweries, will be small in nature. These are small local businesses that employ a few people, using local products, and they require the support of Government. I understand there are some premises where the semblance of a guided tour may be somewhat different, perhaps more restricted, than that in Deputy O'Keeffe's constituency. The guided tour may be led by a guide in certain circumstances or it may be self-guided. A ticket must be issued to participants on the tour, irrespective of whether there is an entrance fee. I acknowledge that in many of the smaller breweries or distilleries an entrance fee might not be charged.
Inclusion of this definition will assist licenceholders. It will clarify the essential features or requirements of a guided tour and it will introduce the measure of legal certainty that Members sought on Committee Stage.
I move amendment No. 14:
In page 5, to delete lines 14 to 16 and substitute the following:
““relevant premises” means a premises to which a relevant licence is attached.”.
This is a technical matter. At present, the legislation states:
“relevant premises” means a premises to which-
(a) a relevant licence is attached, and
(b) persons are admitted for the purpose of a guided tour of the premises.
If we are to copper-fasten what we have already agreed here today, namely, off licence sales will be allowed without the tour, then amendment No. 15 will need to be passed.
Bobby Aylward, John Brady, Declan Breathnach, Tommy Broughan, Joan Burton, Mary Butler, Jackie Cahill, Dara Calleary, Pat Casey, Shane Cassells, Lisa Chambers, Joan Collins, Michael Collins, Barry Cowen, David Cullinane, John Curran, Clare Daly, Stephen Donnelly, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Michael Fitzmaurice, Noel Grealish, Michael Harty, Danny Healy-Rae, Séamus Healy, Billy Kelleher, Alan Kelly, Martin Kenny, John Lahart, James Lawless, Catherine Martin, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Denise Mitchell, Aindrias Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Imelda Munster, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony, Eugene Murphy, Darragh O'Brien, Kevin O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Loughlin, Frank O'Rourke, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Eoin Ó Broin, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Willie Penrose, Maurice Quinlivan, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Niamh Smyth, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín, Mick Wallace.
Maria Bailey, Pat Breen, Colm Brophy, Richard Bruton, Peter Burke, Catherine Byrne, Seán Canney, Ciarán Cannon, Joe Carey, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Simon Coveney, Michael D'Arcy, Jim Daly, John Deasy, Pat Deering, Regina Doherty, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Alan Farrell, Charles Flanagan, Brendan Griffin, Simon Harris, Martin Heydon, Heather Humphreys, Paul Kehoe, Seán Kyne, Josepha Madigan, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Kevin Moran, Eoghan Murphy, Paul Murphy, Hildegarde Naughton, Tom Neville, Kate O'Connell, Patrick O'Donovan, Fergus O'Dowd, John Paul Phelan, Michael Ring, Noel Rock, Shane Ross, Bríd Smith, David Stanton.