The draft alcohol bill has stalled yet again after a number of its provisions were contested
The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which includes the introduction of “booze curtains”, is met with aggressive from the alcohol industry fearing for their profits and has been delayed.
It has now been referred to the attorney general who is examining a number of legal difficulties.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister Ms Corcoran-Kennedy said:
The Department of Health is in regular contact with the Office of the Attorney General in relation to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill — this engagement is similar to the process that takes place when any piece of legislation is progressing through the Oireachtas.”
Such was the objection to elements of the bill, which would change covers for all sale, advertisement, and price of alcohol, that a debate on it was adjourned in the Seanad last October and has yet to be resumed.
The bill would also introduce minimum unit pricing as well as a ban on alcoholic logos on children’s clothes.
The new bill would mandate the introduction of structural separations in shops where alcohol is sold, the so called “booze curtains” – a measure to decrease alcohol visibility, especially were children and youth are concerned. Smaller retail store owners have come forward, encouraged by multinational alcohol companies, claiming the introduction of such booze curtains would have a negative impact on business.
Separately, officials in the Department of Health are also examining how they can adjust section 20 of the bill, which would require shops to erect barriers to shield alcohol from public view, following a heated debate in the Seanad.
Senator Tim Lombard, who strongly objected to parts of the bill when it came before the Seanad, said he hoped the department would tackle some of the more controversial elements of the bill.
It’s an important piece of legislation so I would hope that it comes back from the attorney general as soon as possible and doesn’t sit on a desk for six to eight months,” he said.