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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003

Vol. 565 No. 4

Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2002: Report and Final Stages.

As amendments Nos. 2 and 4 are consequential to amendment No. 1 and amendment No. 3 is related to it, amendments Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

"‘club' means a club registered under the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2000;".

Amendments Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, are technical amendments which were prepared by the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel because, in the definition of "licensee", registered clubs are covered as the text of the Bill stands by both paragraphs (a) and (b). This is due to the fact that, being registered, they are already regarded as licensed premises for the purposes of the intoxicating liquor code. Strictly speaking, therefore, only paragraph (b) should apply to them. The position can be rectified by the deletion of the existing references to clubs in paragraph (d) of the definition of “licensed premises”, by the insertion of a separate definition of such clubs immediately after the definition of closure order, and by other slight changes to paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of “licensee” in the section, as indicated in the amendment. I hope the House will accept these amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, lines 15 and 16, to delete "registered under the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2000".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, line 18, after "premises" to insert "(other than a club)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 4, lines 19 and 20, to delete "registered under the said Acts of 1904 to 2000".

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

As amendment No. 6 is an alternative to amendment No. 5 in the name of Deputy Costello, amendments Nos. 5 and 6 may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 4, line 39, after "Court," to insert "or, on appeal, the Circuit Court".

I do not propose to dwell on this amendment, as there are meatier amendments later on. The Minister's amendment takes on board my proposals in terms of clarification regarding the District Court and on appeal regarding the Circuit Court. I am satisfied with the Minister's amendment No. 6.

I thank Deputy Costello for tabling amendment No. 5.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 5, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:

"(5) An appeal lies to the Circuit Court from an order under subsection (1).”.

Amendment agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

Amendment No. 7 is out of order.

Amendment No. 7 not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 5, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:



4.–It shall be the duty of a licensee of catering premises to take such action reasonably within his or her control as is necessary to prevent disorder or noise referred to in section 4(1).”.

This amendment seeks to begin the process of introducing a number of amendments to this section of the Bill. The amendments seek to introduce measures that specify a duty of care. In this amendment, I propose that, "it shall be the duty of a licensee of catering premises to take such action reasonably within his or her control as is necessary to prevent disorder or noise referred to in section 4(1).” It is important, as we embark in this section on a number of fairly strong measures regarding licensees, such as the possible closure of premises, and customers, that we impose a duty of care requirement and that we outline certain precautionary measures that should be introduced by the licensee.

I have three amendments regarding the use of security cameras and the labelling of products. The licensees of premises which are catering or other convenience outlets should take reasonable action to prevent any disorder or noise. That initial duty of care should be specified in the legislation. The licensees should know precisely the circumstances of an incident and their own responsibility in the matter. They should suffer a penalty if they do not take proper cognisance.

This is a worthwhile amendment. The proposals in the Bill and amendments of this kind are only worthwhile if there is enforcement. I cannot recall the last occasion I saw a garda in a public house and I occasionally visit public houses. Presumably those gardaí are too busy guarding former Taoisigh and driving Cabinet Ministers and judges to court and, indeed, senior Garda management to social functions. I note the Minister is carrying out a review of the security for the homes of former Taoisigh. I have no objection to the Minister being assigned a driver because Ministers work long hours and must cover wide areas.

I suggest that the review be widened to include the introduction of the use of civilian drivers so that the Garda drivers could then be used for inspection duties as referred to by Deputy Costello. I only raise the issue because the Minister has also done so. This issue should not be examined in a piecemeal fashion. I suggest the Minister gives it a comprehensive examination. In the past there was a consideration of the security needs of Ministers because of the threat of terrorism and Ministers certainly needed greater security then. I suggest an across the board review which might result in more Garda inspection and investigation of licensed premises so that the law is enforced.

I am not accepting Deputy Costello's amendment because it is not the practice to insert provisions of this general nature into a criminal justice Bill. The question arises whether it is a criminal duty or a civil duty; whether the breach of it is to be a crime or simply a tort or whether it is to be just a general counsel of perfection. It is not very clear into what category it falls. I believe it would be more suited to a civil law measure such as the forthcoming intoxicating liquor Bill to set out civil duties of this kind.

I indicated on Committee Stage that it was not my intention to introduce qualifying provisions such as "reasonable", "reasonably", "serious" and the like, because they would be regarded as let-out clauses and excuses which would lead to legal arguments as to what was meant by them.

Regarding Deputy Mitchell's point, enforcement is of course a matter of some interest to me and I have made some points about it recently. From what the chairman of the liquor licensing commission remarked about and inserted in his report, there is no doubt that there is uneven enforcement of the law in Ireland. It cannot really be the case that Mayo is very different from Dublin in terms of the amount of under-age drinking and yet the amount of prosecutions in Mayo seem to be 2.5 times the number in Dublin in one particular time period. Allowing for proliferation of licensed premises in some rural towns, one would imagine that there are far more premises selling liquor in Dublin than in Mayo.

It seems to me that it cannot be a question of resources either, it is a question of policy and that is very important regarding these matters. It is not simply a matter of gardaí being available or not to enforce the intoxicating liquor laws, it is more than that.

As regards gardaí going into such premises, the Deputy will know that the order in force at the moment is a well-intentioned attempt to ensure that gardaí who are out of uniform but on duty do not loiter in licensed premises. As Deputy Deasy will know because he has tabled an amendment relative to this issue, the law at the moment requires that a garda performing an official duty in a licensed premises must appear in uniform. It is my intention to amend that law because any real effort at enforcement and surveillance would require that a well-intentioned but impractical restriction on the presence of gardaí in licensed premises should be revoked. I will be doing that in the course of the forthcoming intoxicating liquor Bill, in accordance with the recommendation of the liquor licensing commission.

As regards Garda resources generally, if I can be that irrelevant since the Deputy has been that irrelevant—

It is very relevant.

I believe that the commissioner is quite right in the context of re-assessing the use of the Garda personnel available to him to concentrate on getting as many gardaí as he can into the front line. There are many static posts which have nothing to do with former Taoisigh. Their use should be examined very carefully because it requires the deployment of 5.2 gardaí to maintain a static post on a 24-hour basis. This is expensive in terms of manpower resources. The commissioner is determined to review not just the security arrangements of former Taoisigh but others, with a view to making the best possible use, in the public interest, of manpower.

As regards Ministers, the use of detective gardaí as ministerial drivers is a long-standing practice—

It used to be the same for Ministers of State.

In the Free State, if I may use that term, these functions were carried out by Army drivers. In my judgment, the security needs of Ministers are well served by the use of gardaí. The use of civilian drivers would reduce the possibility of having armed security for Ministers or the Taoiseach. The civilian driver would have to carry a firearm or else there would be a requirement for armed gardaí.

Ministers of State have been without them for years.

Deputy Mitchell will probably agree with me that the security threat to Ministers of State could be judged to be slightly less than that to Ministers.

That is a sign of the Minister's self-importance.

I will not debate that question any more.

As the Government is so popular, who would want to harm them?

I do not want to waste time on the issue. I will simply say that if the commissioner were to say to me that he thought it was an effective means of security, I would have to take note but at the moment, no such suggestion has been made to me.

If the commissioner made the point to the Minister—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

I have allowed reference to this matter but it cannot continue. A new Bill is required.

Of course the commissioner is not going to review that because if he did, the Minister would review his driving requirements. The Minister has an inflated view of himself if he thinks he is much more important than a Minister of State. The Ministers of State have done without Garda drivers for a very long time. The Minister should review the issue and put more gardaí on the beat. If there is an opportunity for civilianisation then the Minister should take that opportunity.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle

I ask the House to return to the debate on the Bill and the consideration of the amendment before the House.

I do not know what sort of drivers are being referred to who are keeping Ministers, Ministers of State and former Taoisigh outside public houses—

Not to mention breaking the speed limit.

—and breaking the speed limit, indeed. We are discussing enforcement in relation to licensed premises and other catering premises but we have wandered a little bit.

I acknowledge what the Minister said about not wishing to stray into the area of tort and wishing to be specific. The closure orders as outlined in the Bill are quite general in many ways in terms of the language used and what constitutes the offence where there has been disorder.

Section 4(1)(ii) reads: "noise emanating from the premises, or emanating from the vicinity of the premises and caused by persons who were on the premises, has been so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such duration or pitch or occurring at such times as to give reasonable cause [the Minister said he would not use the word "reasonable" in the Bill and here it is in the main section] for annoyance to persons in that vicinity." I do not regard this as a very sharp specific offence. My general introductory measure of care outlined in amendment No. 8 on the general duty of licensees is an excellent preamble to this section in regard to closure orders. It should be included as a warning for licensees that if disorder occurs this will be the consequence down the line. The provision would be useful in that it would prevent offences from being committed.

I do not want to create a breach of statutory duty which would give a right to someone who lived next door to a pub or restaurant to sue for damages. It is not that I am against this in principle but this is not the vehicle in which I want to include that provision. This is a criminal justice measure and, if I establish a statutory duty, it is not beyond the grounds of possibility that someone would say, "Here is a statutory duty. I have suffered as a result of my sleep being interrupted by a noisy take-away next door. I want to sue for damages", and rely on it as establishing a civil tort. While that may be a reasonable thing to do, I do not want to do it in the context of a criminal justice Bill without thinking through very carefully what would be the implications.

What the Deputy is attempting to achieve is already implicit in the law. A District Court judge will only make a closure order or whatever if he or she is of the view that the licensee is behaving unreasonably or is failing to do something which is reasonably required. In that sense the implicit obligation to conduct one's premises reasonably is there in so far as one's premises can be closed by order of the District Court if one does not carry out that duty.

Can I take it the Minister will come back to the matter during the discussions on the intoxicating liquor legislation?

Yes, either in the short-term measure or the codification measure next year.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 9 in the name of Deputy Costello arises out of committee proceedings. Amendment No. 15 is an alternative. Amendment No. 16 is related to amendment No. 15 and amendments Nos. 9, 15 and 16 may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 5, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

4.–Without prejudice to the other duties specified by this Bill, it shall be the duty of a licensee of catering premises which are over such size as is prescribed by the Minister for the purposes of this section to maintain security cameras of sufficient nature and quantity as are reasonably required having regard to the risk of disorder and noise on or in the vicinity of the premises.

I am pleased that the Minister has put forward an alternative. I am proposing a requirement for CCTV and security cameras, and that the Minister could prescribe the size and nature of the premises which would require these so that it would help to reduce the likelihood of disorder or noise on or in the vicinity of a premises.

We are aware of recent incidents that have occurred. There was a report in yesterday's newspapers on the various videos taken from CCTV cameras. I understand they were taken from cameras in premises on Grafton Street in relation to a very tragic incident. Perhaps the Minister will indicate whether the gardaí had cameras on the street. When the Garda Commissioner spoke to us two months ago he indicated that he was in the process of establishing CCTV cameras in certain built-up areas which required a high degree of surveillance. Obviously the gardaí should have a camera in Grafton Street. There is one in O'Connell Street. CCTV cameras are a valuable deterrent to crime and a valuable tool in solving crimes that have been committed. It is important to incorporate this measure in the legislation so that we can ward against the likelihood of disorder and assaults which are taking place far too often in cities and rural areas.

Deputy Costello and I referred to this measure on Committee Stage. We appreciate the fact that the Minister has taken the matter on board and come back with this proposal. This measure is important. The catalyst for the bouncers Bill was CCTV coverage in Cork where a couple of horrific incidences took place.

The Home Office recently carried out a study looking at different jurisdictions within Europe and the US. It looked at the effectiveness of CCTV and ordinary public lighting. The report concluded that additional or better public lighting can be just as effective and much cheaper than installing expensive cameras. It suggested that many cities and towns are not sufficiently lit and that if extra resources were made available to local authorities for extra public lighting, it would be just as effective. I am pleased that the CCTV issue is being included but we must also consider the public lighting issue.

I ask the Minister not to accept this amendment which would be another invasion of privacy. Good management, including proper enforcement of the existing law, would address this problem. Under section 5(3) of the Bill, if there is disorderly behaviour on a premises the court can rule that CCTV cameras should be installed in such premises. There is already sufficient CCTV in place. CCTV cameras do not seem to be a deterrent to the type of incident which took place on Grafton Street. I am wary of mandatory surveillance. I am concerned that a fine of €650 would not impact greatly on businesses which would not comply with a court order. Perhaps the figure should be increased.

Amendments Nos. 15 and 16 were meant to deal with the issues raised by Deputies Costello and Deasy on Committee Stage and I am grateful to the Deputies for raising those points. Amendment No. 16 imposes a penalty on the basis that when a licence comes up for annual renewal, an opportunity is given to the District Court to examine cases where there has not been compliance with its orders. For non-licensed outlets, such as take-aways etc., there is not an occasion to sanction someone that is acting other than in accordance with the directions of the court. This was introduced as a criminal sanction for failing to comply. The spirit behind the drafting of the Bill is that most licensees that stand to lose their licences would be deterred from ignoring an order by the potential loss of the licence.

A number of district judges are already requiring, on an informal basis, that CCTV be installed in certain premises as it has the ability to either deter offences or establish who is telling the truth about occasions of disorder. Whereas many banks install CCTV outside their premises to give some comfort to people using ATMs etc., they do have a collateral advantage in that they provide a useful reference, where available, for the Garda to attempt to detect who was involved and what happened in the commission of offences.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh raised the issue of privacy. I am struck by the fact that he ploughed a distinct furrow from many other Deputies on this occasion and when I published the crime figures. He may be proved right, or otherwise, in the long run. I do not feel the privacy issue is all that serious. I do not feel my privacy is intruded on if there is a CCTV camera recording the goings-on in a chipper. There is a CCTV camera in my local corner shop and I do not feel my privacy is much intruded on. On the contrary, I draw some degree of comfort from the fact that it is less likely there will be a violent incident there if it is known CCTV is in operation.

I am also struck by the point raised by Deputy Deasy regarding the British Home Office survey that seems to suggest good public street lighting is, in many cases, as good a deterrent as CCTV. One is not necessarily the alternative to the other and both combined are the optimum.

It is striking that in many cases poor lighting is a causal factor in the location of crime, if not in its commission in the first place.

While I cannot be more specific as I presume criminal proceedings are pending, the difficulty regarding the incidents to which Deputy Costello refers is that street lighting does not seem to provide any deterrent to people engaging in that kind of behaviour. I know there was almost a pitch battle recently on O'Connell Street where there is intense street lighting and full CCTV surveillance. Neither seemed to be a deterrent when people were minded to behave in that way. We should not be too naive about the capacity of CCTV to make our lives perfect.

I take the point Deputy Ó Snodaigh generally makes that we cannot have a snooping society where every move of every person in every place is available to the Garda for public inspection. Regarding the type of case to which Deputy Costello refers, it is not as if gardaí spend their spare time, if they have any, going over CCTV footage to satisfy their idle curiosity as to what people do. Gardaí will only spend time doing this in pursuit of a serious Garda purpose. I do not think it is ever used for snooping. It is used sparingly and on a voluntary basis where the owner of the CCTV makes the material available to the Garda in the context of the commission of serious offences.

The Minister has been eminently reasonable in presenting this case. The amendment I tabled dealt with maintaining sufficient security cameras "as are reasonably required having regard to the risk of disorder and noise on or in the vicinity of the premises". The Minister's amendment goes a step beyond that and I agree with it.

It can always be said that a citizen's rights are being interfered with if there is any intrusion arising from any form of surveillance or actions taken by anybody. As we have focused the amendment in the context of disorder or activity on or off the premises that would give rise to offences, it is corralled into that. Since CCTV was installed on O'Connell Street, the Garda has reported substantial improvement on law and order on that street even though the Minister has cited a sample disorder. The Garda Síochána has indicated a reduction of disorder of between 25% and 50%. While disorder was rampant on O'Connell Street some time ago, one does not hear of it as much now. It is almost as if much of the late night disorder has shifted, despite O'Connell Street being the Mecca for fast food outlets in the city.

The Minister's amendment is reasonable and we should take on board what Deputy Deasy has said about the need for local authorities to ensure there is good public lighting, particularly in areas where young people assemble in large numbers late at night.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 5, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

4.–Without prejudice to the other duties specified by this Bill, it shall be the duty of a licensee of catering premises which supplies products consisting of or containing intoxicating liquor for consumption off the premises to label such products in such a way as to identify the identity of the licensee in question.

This is a duty I am seeking to impose on the owners of off-licences. This is a crucial issue and has been mooted before. I believe it was included in 1998 legislation but it has never been activated. It is virtually impossible to trace the origins of a bottle or can that has emanated from licensed premises because there is no marking on it. A good deal of under-age drinking takes place and many sales of alcohol get into the hands of young people whether sold by rogue off-licences or to persons over the age of 18 who pass it on to young people. A range of by-laws makes it an offence to drink in public places.

This is a simple matter of providing traceability. Any item of liquor sold to be consumed off the premises should have indelible ink or some traceability element on it to enable it to be traced. That would be of enormous advantage in determining where the rogue off-sales take place and it would be enormously useful where offences are being committed. This does not mean one can immediately say that such and such a premises has committed an offence. Of course not, it may well be that it has been sold in a bona fide fashion but if it happens on a regular basis and the origins of the bottles or cans are the same premises, there would be a degree of suspicion and it would be a matter of checking up on that premises. It would be enormously valuable in dealing with under age drinking if we knew from where every can or bottle of alcohol came.

The argument from supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores – be they petrol stations or the local Spar outlets – is that this would be time consuming and would involve a cost factor. I do not see why we cannot deal with that issue. Every item of perishable goods from a grocery or supermarket has a stamp indicating its "sell by" date. We shall have to impose the same duty of responsibility on those who are the purveyors of alcohol because of the implications and the impact of alcohol. It is a drug and it causes much damage if abused and if in the wrong hands. Those who own the premises and sell the product will have to bear that extra duty of responsibility and care.

I ask the Minister to take on board this amendment.

I support this amendment. Virtually every community is affected by under age drinking. At a residents' association meeting with the Garda Síochána last year, the Garda was challenged as to why a specific off-licence was allowed to continue sales because it was the belief of all present that the particular premises was the cause of much of the under age drinking in the area. The reply was the Garda found it very difficult get convictions or to prove the drink involved came from a particular premises. I agree with Deputy Costello that anything that makes it easier to prove the link between such a premises – whether the convenience store, the supermarket or the off-licence – and which would help the Garda to tackle rogue traders and remove licences from traders who are willing to supply drink either to under age drinkers who come into the store or to provide it to others who are willing to buy it for them, should be done.

This is an enforcement issue. The Garda has the right to confiscate drink from under age drinking gangs but this has not been done at the level it should be done. If it were, it might help to address some of the problems of binge drinking and the thuggery that sometimes evolves from that. I would appreciate the Minister's endorsement of this amendment.

This measure has been sought by Fine Gael for some time. I met with the Minister's officials in the Department earlier today. I could be wrong but I thought this was already included in existing legislation and all that was needed was a ministerial order. If that is the case, we could probably sort this matter out very easily.

Deputy Deasy is correct. I am grateful to Deputy Costello for tabling this amendment. The position is that section 17 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2000 states:

The name of the owner and the address of premises to which an on-licence or an off-licence is attached shall be clearly indicated on a label affixed to any container in which intoxicating liquor is sold for consumption off the premises.

That section is not yet in force because the commencement order has not been made. A meeting took place between officials of my Department and the Garda representatives in relation to that matter. There are difficulties in relation to it which I should perhaps explain.

First, it is not an offence at the moment for a 19 year old to go into an off-licence to buy a tray of cider and to go out and hand it to 14 year olds. No criminal offence is committed in those circumstances. It is not, in principle, an offence to supply an under age person with drink. If any of us had teenage children, we would be entitled to give them a drink in the house if we so wished or to give them a beer at a party or whatever. There is no generalised criminal offence in existence. We must be realistic about what can be achieved on this front.

Second, it is my intention to bring to Government, and then to this House in the very near future, an intoxicating liquor Bill which will require persons purchasing drink, either on an on-licence or off-licence basis to prove their age with a mandatory age identity card in the case of younger purchasers. In those circumstances from now on – and the off-licence trade has asked for this – it will be impossible for them to supply liquor, once that comes into effect, to an under age person by mistake because the person will have to produce an identity card as a precondition for purchasing liquor.

The issue then moves on to what will be done to prevent 19 year olds from supplying 14 year olds. In that context it seems to me, and I would be interested the hear the views of others on this, that there should be a general offence in respect of a child, defined as somebody under the age of 18 years, of supplying them with intoxicating liquor without the consent of their parent, guardian or somebody acting in loco parentis. In such a case, a person who gives a tray of cider to a 14 year old commits a criminal offence unless he or she can prove it was done with the consent of the person who has responsibility for that child. If such an offence comes into play, the need for the provision in the 2000 Act will be greatly reduced but not completely eliminated.

The question I have been considering is whether it is reasonable in the circumstances to require that the name and address of every off-licence and on-licence premises be printed on every bottle or can they supply. There are practical difficulties to which I want to draw the Deputy's attention. In the case of a six-pack, are they to break it open and stamp every bottle? Are they to rip open bubble-wrapped tins on a tray of beer cans and stamp every can before they sell it? There are many practical issues and we have to ask ourselves whether this is a good idea.

Another problem is whether it is practical to require a name and address or if some kind of hallmark or symbol which is unique to the supplier would be better. It is not as easy as the Deputy might think. If a six-pack can be opened outside the off-licence premises, how can it be marked unless it is torn apart by the off-licensee or the publican in order to stamp every can? The intention was good in 2000, but it may not have been thought through to the Nth degree. I am well disposed towards the principle of it. Therefore, in the context of the forthcoming intoxicating liquor Bill I will accept any reasonable suggestion as to how a workable scheme could be put in place which indicates the source of a drink product found in the possession of a young person. In the context of supply onwards by an adult to a child, it could be of significant assistance to the Garda Síochána in at least establishing some kind of chain.

Rather than reading on to the record the report of a meeting with the Garda on the issue I will undertake to make available to the Deputies opposite the distillation of that meeting, because it goes on for a number of pages. It spells out the kinds of difficulties about which I have been talking, and the practicalities as far as the Garda is concerned. It is an issue to which this House will return within a couple of months when we will probably be able to arrive at a more satisfactory solution than the one which was found impractical in the 2000 Bill.

I thank the Minister for his reply. My problem with accepting what the Minister has said is that the provision has been in the legislation for a number of years and no attempt has been made by either the Minister or his predecessor to implement it or to deal with the difficulties and impracticalities of the issue. I am reluctant therefore to leave it as it stands and accept that at some time in the future it might be dealt with and the difficulties might be overcome. I intend to press this amendment. If the Minister introduced a mandatory identification card, that would be a bonus in terms of dealing with the situation of the normal off-sales purveyor. However, there are still rogue salespeople in that area and it would not deal with those.

The question of a mandatory ID card raises other issues. We listened yesterday to spokespersons from the National Youth Federation and the National Youth Council of Ireland explaining their profound dissatisfaction with the proposal for a national ID card. They would much prefer to push in favour of a voluntary card, making it free – it is not quite free at present – and to campaign to encourage people to use the voluntary card. That is an issue that is controversial.

On the question of 19 year olds supplying 14 year olds without parental consent, it would be worthwhile to deal with that in future legislation. Perhaps we should include something in that respect in this Bill.

To get back to the difficulties of stamping, what are the practical difficulties of stamping a six-pack or tray of beer? If one looks at the various beers on the shelves in any off-license premises, one will find that one company packages its beer in a plastic covering while another uses a type of plastic holder. If all companies used plastic holders there would be no covering and each of the cans or bottles could be individually stamped.

What about the middle bottles in a six-pack? How would one get to them?

That would be no problem. With a holder it is possible to get to them all and they can all be marked. Currently, every item in a shop has a bar code which is put on at the wholesale or product level and it has to be scanned. It is not beyond the ability of the producers of drink to come up with some form of identification that is manageable. We have heard all the obstacles to doing this. I would much prefer to hear about the solutions. We have to have some labelling that is traceable. That could quite easily be done in respect of most of the beer that is currently being sold. It should not pose a problem.

I do not know what problems the Garda have with it. I would have thought it would make its job easier if each can or bottle of beer had a label or a mark. I am not prepared to accept the Mini ster's argument or undertaking to address it at some future time. We have not addressed it to date. We should bite the bullet now and insert it in this legislation.

This is something for which we have been asking for some time. The Minister has explained the practical difficulties. I am willing to accept that explanation. If the Minister believes there are insurmountable practical difficulties, perhaps we should look at the minutes of the meeting and read what the Garda had to say. My party has been in favour of this for some time, but it might be more reasonable to take a look at that first and then deal with it in legislation. I would go along with that.

I appreciate that Deputy Costello wants this badly. It is already in law and I could have pressed the button at any stage if I thought it would do much good. I will revisit the matter in the context of the intoxicating liquor Bill which I intend to publish and put through the Houses before the summer recess. At that stage we will assess the matter. I could easily sign the order commencing this, but it is something that has to be done in good conscience and the practical difficulties must be addressed – the ripping open of the bubble-packs, the tearing open of the six-packs and so on. Deputy Costello seems to think there is some way into the middle of a six-pack. I do not know what it would be unless it was an adhesive label and that could be taken off. I cannot work out how to get into the interior of a six-pack to put on a mark, but maybe I am stupid.

I do not see why it is not possible to get to the interior of a six-pack. Once it is not covered with plastic there should be no difficulty.

One cannot mark the glass. One must mark the label.

The can and the glass have to be marked. It is being done all time with sell-by dates. How do the producers do it? Has nobody spoken to the producers who mark every item?

There is no problem with putting marks onto products when they are manufactured. It is when they go to different off-licence premises that the individual stamping of the name and address would have to take place. These products are not destined from the moment of manufacture for one place only.

I am not prepared to accept what the Minister says. There is individual barcoding on every product that goes through a shop. I do not see why we cannot insist on having an indelible mark put on by machine, by hand or by some form of barcoding. Can the Minister tell me that he or his predecessor has explored technical mechanisms to ensure that this could be done and found it would be impossible to do so?

Amendment put.

Boyle, Dan.Broughan, Thomas P.Costello, Joe.Ferris, Martin.Gilmore, Eamon.Gogarty, Paul.Gregory, Tony.Harkin, Marian.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael D.McGrath, Finian.Morgan, Arthur.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.

Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Pattison, Seamus.Penrose, Willie.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Sherlock, Joe.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Twomey, Liam.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.


Ahern, Michael.Andrews, Barry.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Breen, James.Brennan, Seamus.Callanan, Joe.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Carty, John.Cassidy, Donie.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.

Cregan, John.Cullen, Martin.Curran, Valera, Síle.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Devins, Jimmy.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fitzpatrick, Dermot.Fleming, Seán.Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Glennon, Jim.


Grealish, Noel.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kelly, Peter.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Seamus.Kitt, Tom.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McDowell, Michael.McEllistrim, Thomas.McGuinness, John.Martin, Micheál.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.

Moynihan, Michael.Mulcahy, Michael.Nolan, M. J.Ó Cuív, Éamon.Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.O'Connor, Charlie.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donoghue, John.O'Donovan, Denis.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Malley, Fiona.O'Malley, Tim.Power, Seán.Ryan, Eoin.Sexton, Mae.Smith, Brendan.Treacy, Noel.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wilkinson, Ollie.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and Broughan; Níl, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 5, line 30, after "for" to insert "serious".

This is a minor amendment that matches my earlier amendment. I want to introduce a general duty of care that would be clearly outlined in the legislation where the licensee could see straight away his or her responsibilities and that if he or she did not act accordingly that the sanctions are very tough – closure of the premises.

I propose to strengthen the legislation by not leaving a word as subjective as "annoyance" as grounds for closure of premises. I propose that we insert "serious" so that the Bill reads, "reasonable cause for serious annoyance." What annoys me might not annoy the Minister or he might have a lower tolerance level than me. It varies with age and circumstances and "annoyance" has any number of interpretations. Introducing the word "serious" would give this some strength. We do not want to impose the substantial sanction of closure on publicans and licensees without good cause. I am not the friend of the publican or licensee, they have not shouldered their responsibilities regarding legislation. If they had done so it would be much easier for us to ensure the maintenance of public order. We should, however, be careful about the way in which we frame our legislation and "serious" is an appropriate adjective in this case.

The term "serious" is already implied. I cannot imagine a District Court order being made other than for serious reasons and I rely on the common sense of the Judiciary to deploy these powers only when the matters brought to its attention are serious.

This is the last occasion on which I will be able to speak on this Bill. I thank the Deputies opposite for their contribution to the debate. I have made remarks in public about filibustering on this Bill but that does not apply to anyone in the House at the moment. Three quorums were called on Second Stage by people who did not then participate in the proceedings.

Not on this side of the House.

None of them are members of the parties represented in the House at the moment, they have all gone away, as is typical.

As it is now 7 p.m., I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "That the amendments set down by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill, that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed."

Question put and agreed to.