Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Brian Lenihan announced today that the Government has approved his proposal to establish an Advisory Group to examine key aspects of the law governing the sale and consumption of alcohol.
Membership of the Advisory Group, which will hold its first meeting within a fortnight, will report to the Minister by March 31, 2008.
The group comprises of Dr Gordon Holmes (Chair), Chief Superintendent John Twomey of An Garda Síochána, Professor Ian O'Donnell (Criminologist, UCD) Dr Declan Bedford (Specialist in Public Health, HSE), Seamus Carroll (Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform) and Robbie Breen (Department of Health and Children).
The issues to be examined by the Advisory Group include below unit-cost selling, special promotions, special exemption orders which permit longer opening hours and the effectiveness of existing sanctions.
“We have a problem with binge drinking in this country and it is clear that this problem is adding to public disorder,” said Lenihan.
“I am determined to tackle, as a matter of urgency, the public order aspects of the sale and consumption of alcohol. I have asked the Group to report to me by March 31, 2008 and I intend to bring forward after Easter urgent proposals for changes in the law with a view to enacting new legislation before the summer.
“The Government shares the growing national concern about public order problems resulting from binge drinking and that is why we are taking this action now.”
Lenihan said work would also continue in parallel with this new initiative on the drafting of a comprehensive Sale of Alcohol Bill which is already included in the Government Legislation Programme for 2008.
Recently published figures show there has been a 17% increase in alcohol consumption during the past 10 years and the latest figures available show a 35% increase in the number of off-licences from 2003 to 2005.