Seanad debates

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

10:30 am

Photo of Jillian van TurnhoutJillian van Turnhout (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I stand to welcome the news this morning from the Minister for Education and Skills that she plans to write to all schools telling them to cease allowing the drinks industry or Drinkaware to come into our schools, an issue I raised as a Commencement matter last May and which I am delighted to see come to fruition. It came as a result of a meeting with the Alcohol Health Alliance, which is spearheaded by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Alcohol Action Ireland. If anybody wishes to look at the lobbying register, it will be very clear that the meeting was about Drinkaware, although in the newspapers this morning, Drinkaware was trying to distance itself from the drinks industry. Drinkaware is 100% funded by the drinks industry and is the drinks industry in costume. The announcement by the Minister for Education and Skills is about the work of any guise or costume the drinks industry chooses to wear. Will the Leader to convey our thanks and appreciation to the Minister for Education and Skills and to make this point clear?

Will the Leader also ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he would consider talking to the Road Safety Authority to ask it to cease its relationship with the drinks industry because it is absurd that it has any relationship with the drinks industry given the road safety issues we were discussing in this House yesterday? There is no place for the drinks industry to be using the bodies of the State to say it is doing their work while, on the other hand, blocking the essential work that is happening on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which is currently progressing through this House. Will the Leader to take his example from the HSE, something we do not hear every day in this House? The HSE came out with a policy last year ceasing all relationship with the drinks industry. It has a role which is to make money for its shareholders and it should go ahead and do that but it should not be involved in public health or public awareness campaigns as it has no role to play in those.


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