Thursday, 17 December 2015
Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Second Stage
I welcome the Minister to the House and will not repeat the points made by many Members. I have spent the past four years in this House seeking this legislation in particular and I am very pleased. I congratulate the Minister on his commitment to this legislation and congratulate the Government because Members have been waiting a long time for this legislation. I refer to one aspect Senator MacSharry mentioned regarding a code of practice. That is a thing of the past and one must legislate. It will not be particularly expensive to put a barrier in a shop to segregate alcohol from other products. I do not believe it is an issue and I do not want to hear that suggestion again in the House because in this legislation, the Minister has covered every angle.
Members are aware that the availability of alcohol and cheap alcohol in particular has caused many problems in Ireland. Last Sunday, perhaps after the publication of the Bill on 8 December, I noticed in particular the advertisements in the Sunday Independent.I was actually quite shocked at the slabs of drink and the price at which they were being sold. However, I wish to mention one point about which I overheard two ladies speak at the weekend. They were giving out about how the price of wine was about to rise in the supermarket and one lady stated she would be going up North again. When the Minister published the Bill, he stated the legislation in Northern Ireland would happen at the same time and that is very important. I live in a Border county and many years ago, many people went up to the North to shop not just for alcohol, and it had a huge impact on businesses in Border towns. In any event, I reiterate how pleased I am and I thank the Minister for his genuine commitment to this legislation.