Latest: Time for Ireland to lead on alcohol restricitions, says Reilly

Senator James Reilly

Update 6.30pm: The Seanad is tonight debating amendments to the Public Health Alcohol Bill - which seeks to introduce a minimum price for alcohol.

Senators have told the chamber they have been lobbied by shopkeepers, who argue that they will be disproportionately affected by rules on segregating drink.

The Seanad has also heard pleas that the Bill be delayed until a minimum price is introduced in the North also.

However, Senator James Reilly, a former Health Minister, opposes any further delays.

"There’s a time to follow, and there's a time to lead. Let us lead on this," he said.

"And let our friends in the North of Ireland, when they do get their Executive back together, as we all hope they will, let them follow then.

"But let us not use a possibility of something happening or not happening as an excuse for us not doing what we know we should do."


A lobby group for the alcohol industry has accused the Department of Health of spreading "fake news" about Ireland's drinking habits.

The Alcohol Bill, which aims to ban cheap drinks and limit advertising, returns to the Seanad today.

Ahead of it, the Department circulated a fact sheet about consumption to senators, but the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland says it is based on old data.

Patricia Callan, the Federation's director, said: "The World Health Organisation has said alcohol consumption in Ireland has declined by 25% since 2005 and that Ireland has fallen significantly from a rank of 9th to 18th for alcohol consumption.

"Yet the department says it is a myth is falling. So they are simply not basing anything that they are saying on evidence."

The alcohol industry claims the measures will not work, but liver specialist and chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance Professor Frank Murray disagrees.

Prof. Murray said: "The public Alcohol Bill is the most important piece of legislation we have ever had in relation to alcohol in this country and we classify alcohol as a public health issue.

"The measures in the Bill, and there are six categories of measures, are of proven benefit.

"they are among measures that are being recommended by the World Health Organisation."

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