Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Report Stage

Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, 6 and 24 are related. Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, and amendment No. 6 are consequential on amendment No. 24 and will be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 7, between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following:

“ “Audiovisual Media Services Directive” means Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services; “audiovisual media service” has the same meaning as it has in Article 1 of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive;”.

Subsection (1) is a prohibition on the advertising of alcohol online unless all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that children cannot view the advertising. All reasonable steps is a formula widely found in the Statute Book. It is the same test used by the Department of Health on the offence of selling tobacco products to children under 16. The reference to information society services reflects the EU terminology used to define services such as websites, email, search engines, Twitter and YouTube, etc., and it is the terminology used by the Department of Health in its ban on e-cigarettes.

Section 6, subsection (2), then sets out factors to be taken into account in determining whether reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that advertising cannot be viewed by children. The reference to the court or jury reflects the fact that the offence could be tried on indictment before a jury. The subsection is not proscriptive as to what constitutes "all reasonable steps" but I expect that it would effectively require the following: age gates which would at least consist of a user-entered date of birth or similar; the use of any demographic targeting tools provided by advertising networks to limit viewing to users over 18; and registration of websites with internet filtering software providers and a restriction on retweets, send by email and similar tools where these would have the effect of exposing an advertisement to a new audience which could potentially include children.

The reference to "state of technological development" is borrowed from the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2003 and it is intended to have the effect that the duty to prevent viewing by children will become more stringent as time progresses and access controls become more effective.

Subsection (3) provides that the offence only apply to audiovisual media services originating in Ireland. This is done to reflect the country of origin principle in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, AVMSD, which prevents Ireland from imposing these rules on services originating in other European Economic Area, EEA, jurisdictions. I had expected that the Department of Health would table its own amendment in similar terms but alas this did not happen.

I support the spirit of what Deputy O'Reilly is trying to do. I have discussed it with the Minister in some detail and it has been explained to me that for a bunch of what sound like reasonable and material legal reasons it cannot be done in this way. However, the point raised is incredibly important because one of the things that this Bill does is to try to prevent advertising of alcohol in areas such as sport, particularly with children. As we know, advertising is moving online and my understanding is that more than 50% of advertising revenue spent in Ireland today is spent online and, therefore, we are going to great efforts to make a difference in terms of billboard advertising near schools and so forth but to miss online advertising is a real problem. I understand that it could not be brought through this Bill because it requires changes to European legislation and so forth. While we will not support the amendment as it is, I wholeheartedly agree with the point that Deputy O'Reilly raised, namely, that whatever prohibitions and protections we are bringing in, particularly for young people and children, we must figure out how to bring that into the online space as well as a matter of urgency.

Opposition amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive and amendments Nos. 6 and 24, as Deputy O'Reilly outlined, create a framework for age restrictions on alcohol advertising on the Internet. Like Deputy Donnelly, I fully support the intention of these amendments, as I discussed with Deputy O'Reilly and in the Seanad and as my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, would have said on Committee Stage because one of the primary objectives of this Bill is to delay the initiation of alcohol consumption by children and young people. I wish to be clear that there is no disagreement between myself and Deputy O'Reilly on the intent of what she is trying to achieve.

These amendments propose the creation of an offence if a person advertises or causes to be advertised, an alcohol product on an information society service unless all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that the advertising cannot be viewed by children. An example of what constitutes a reasonable step is whether age verification controls have been used to prevent access by children to an advertisement. My concern with this approach, which will not be news to the Deputy, is that these amendments use the framework of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which is within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten. My officials have previously consulted with that Department and the Department of Justice and Equality on this matter because the issue is an important one. I am informed that the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is a sector-specific directive for television and services that are similar to television and I am informed that the intention of its scope, as would happen with these amendments, to include any audiovisual content on any Internet platform, would cut across several EU directives and other legislation.

In addition to these legal concerns, there is a difficulty with the enforcement of the proposal. For example, if it was introduced for websites hosted in Ireland, advertisers could simply move to websites which are not hosted in Ireland in order to avoid the necessity to comply with these proposed restrictions.

On a practical note, I am unclear as to how effective age verification controls are in terms of their implementation. If it is a matter of clicking a button to confirm that the viewer is aged 18 or over, children may simply be able to click that button and access the alcohol advertising.

I fully support the intention of the amendments and I am very willing to work with colleagues across this House and with colleagues in Government to see how Ireland can endeavour to address this and to play a role in addressing it in Europe but according to the advice available to me, it is likely that European legislation will be necessary to address issues of online platforms due to the cross border nature of the services involved. That is not to say we should not do it, but this vehicle is not the best place for doing so. This issue needs to be addressed at EU level and for that reason, I do not propose to accept these amendments.

The information I have directly contradicts the information the Minister has just given. While I fully appreciate that Deputies respect the intention of the amendments, it remains our position that this is the correct vehicle in which to do this because we believe we have to take all and any steps necessary.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae wished to comment on this matter.

I am opposed to the cancer warning on-----

These are amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, and amendments Nos. 6 and 24.

Does this include advertising?

It is Internet advertising and the targeting of children. Is the Deputy for it or against it?

Is it the cancer warning in the context of pubs and restaurants?

That is not the subject matter here. We will come back to the Deputy when we get to that particular matter.

The Minister will not accept the amendment. How stands the amendment?

The amendment is being pressed.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 25; Níl, 56; Staon, 32.

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Louise O'Reilly and Aengus Ó Snodaigh; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 7, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:

“ “information society service” has the same meaning as it has in Article 1 of Directive (EU) 2015/1535 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 September 2015 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical regulations and of rules on Information Society services;”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 7, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:

“ “media service provider” has the same meaning as it has in Article 1 of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive;”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 27; Níl, 55; Staon, 33.

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Louise O'Reilly and Aengus Ó Snodaigh; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 8, line 19, to delete “and”.

The purpose of amendments Nos. 4 and 5 is to deal with the availability of free alcohol when purchasing another service. I refer, for example, to a person who gets his or her nails done or goes to the barber or the cinema. The businesses supplying this alcohol are very often not licensed premises. They are not governed by the same rules and regulations. It is shocking that Healthy Ireland has published a survey that found only 16% of women were aware of the link between breast cancer and alcohol consumption. The national cancer control programme found that 12% of all breast cancers over a decade in Ireland were associated with alcohol consumption. For these reasons, alcohol given free with a service should be prohibited under this Bill. A person is often not asked in the hair salon, or wherever it happens to be, if he or she wants a drink. The person is asked if he or she wants a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of water but is then handed a glass of prosecco. I have experienced this. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that practice ceases.

I take grave exception to this amendment. I will give an example of what might happen if we take this to its ultimate conclusion. Hairdressers were mentioned and many people attend them. Let us take the opening day of a new hairdresser premises. If people are invited to the launch, and taking this proposal to its ultimate conclusion, it could be wrong to offer a drink to would-be customers of that new business because under this proposal the alcohol would be free and given on the premises. This is a case of people gone mad with political correctness. For God's sake, if a person is attending the launch of a new business where somebody wants to treat him or her to a bottle of beer or a glass of wine, what in the name of goodness is wrong with that? This is the total demonisation of alcohol. We all want responsible intake of alcohol but what do people actually want to do? Do they want every public house in the country to close down? Do we want to shut our small breweries that give much needed employment in each of our counties?

I am proud that in the county I represent we have small business people who have started up breweries. I think of Killarney and Dingle. The highest quality gin and craft beer is being made. It is a product that is safe and nice for people to taste, be they visitors or locals. Do we want to close down these businesses? Do we want to do away with the alcohol industry? Enough bars and public houses have closed. I have repeatedly said that the best people to administer the sale of alcohol are the responsible publicans, whether they are people who own public houses or any other licensed premises. What is being proposed here in respect of giving away free beer, free wine or otherwise concerns something that only happens on certain occasions. If this is taken to its ultimate conclusion, it will lead to the most serious and stupid situation.

If somebody wants to treat a person to a drink in a premises on a street, that could be deemed to be wrong and illegal. That is crazy.

We are losing the run of ourselves. I am merely talking common sense. Every person in this House wants sensible and safe use of alcohol. Are we saying we want to demonise the industry and to shut it down, which will cost thousands and thousands of jobs? The hoteliers, publicans and restaurateurs are people I know who are working in their communities, creating much-needed employment. Those people are looking on in horror at what is going on with this Bill. They are asking whether politicians have lost the run of themselves completely, and are wondering if we have forgotten from where we come. We want people to be safe and do not want them to abuse alcohol, but are we saying we do not want them to touch a drop of alcohol again, whether it is for free or whether they have to buy it? This proposal is crazy.

I concur with the previous speaker. When a business opens it does not ram its offerings down one's throat. They offer tea, minerals or a drink. The opening of businesses is a one-time-only occasion. Licensed premises were referred to. Those premises are not taking money for the alcohol, but rather are giving drinks for free on opening days. In most parts of the country - it might be different where some Members live - one will be driving a car home so one will not be drinking. As has been said previously, there is a link between excessive drink and bad health. That is also the case for excessive sweets or processed foods, or excess of anything else. Excess does nobody any favours. We have almost gone beyond political correctness at this stage, considering some of the proposals put forward.

I am also concerned about this. Political correctness has gone mad. I looked at this matter carefully and did not submit any amendments, unlike my colleagues. I considered it, and the longer the debate went on, and the more the different political groupings ebbed and flowed, changing their minds before the heavy hands of the health spokespersons, the more I wondered about the democracy of it all. This is certainly ridiculous. The apple festival was launched to celebrate the proud history of Bulmers cider in Clonmel, County Tipperary, last Saturday evening. That event will have to be labelled in the future if we dare mentioned cider. We have gone over the top. While there is a huge issue with alcohol abuse and misuse, we are going after the wrong people all the time.

There are off-sales everywhere now; in shops, forecourts of garages and massive off-licences. I have respect for the National Off-Licence Association, which runs its affairs properly. However, I have regularly seen the system being abused when youngsters are working behind the counter. We had to discontinue a festival in a town in Tipperary due to the way young people were able to get alcohol from big shops with other young people behind the counter who were peer pressured, leading to reckless trading. As Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said, the safest place to consume alcohol, tea, coffee, MiWadi, orange drinks or lemonade is in a respectable public house, where there are measures in place and where there are licences up behind the counters so that members of An Garda Síochána can come in and check it. Publicans have to keep their house in order, and 99% of them do that. However, we are literally closing those places down by virtue of this kind of ridiculous legislation.

Are we going to put labelling onto meat products, sweets or boxes of Milk Tray? If we leave out a bottle for Santa Claus will we have to put a warning on it to tell him that he cannot drink it because it might make him sick before he gets back to Lapland? This is crazy stuff. The legislation we are passing here is so regressive, so anti-work and anti-business it is frightening.

Deputy Kelly had a Bill earlier in the year which sought to allow small craft brewers - of which there are many in Tipperary - to let people taste their products and purchase some of it while visiting the breweries. I supported that Bill. However, the same day, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, passed a Bill that would mean people would be punished if they even had a whiff of alcohol, if they even opened a bottle. This is farcical. We need joined-up thinking. Our industries and pubs have served us well throughout the centuries, and have to be supported rather than destroyed. We have gone over the top with regulation. We are going to become a nanny state, telling citizens that we cannot do this or that. There is an illicit and illegal trade already in place in this country, and if there is a hard border after Brexit, goodness knows what will happen. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle knows that better than anyone here.

We must have common sense at all times. I heard my former colleague and good friend, Professor John Crown, on the radio yesterday. He made the valid point that it is excessive drinking that causes damage to one's health, and we are not doing enough in schools and through the education system to educate people about that. If anyone here seriously thinks that putting labels on the neck of a bottle will change-----

If I may interrupt, this amendment seeks to remove the word "and" from the section.

Yes. It is a small word.

It is a significant word in the context of this provision. Perhaps we should focus on the amendment. There will be an opportunity to talk about labelling later.

I am sure there will be a few people present here who will be launching books-----

This is not a Second Stage speech.

-----in the years to come, and they will not be able to have a glass of wine at it. They will be dry launches; people will have to have MiWadi.

What does the word "and" change?

There is nothing but "ifs", "ands" and "buts" here. There is everything except common sense.

The main purpose of this Bill is to tackle alcohol misuse, underage drinking and the overall consumption of alcohol. I go to many functions where free drink is available. I attend many openings and many football matches. There is a thing called choice. I have been a pioneer for the past 40 years or so, but I do not have a problem with drink. I do not want to drink, but I do not have a problem if other people drink. People should not be pressurised to take alcohol. My wife would take the odd glass of wine. We have been married for 35 years, and I have seen her take perhaps ten glasses of wine in that period. She takes a glass, and she enjoys it. People have to take responsibility for their drinking. If a person goes to a function, drinks and drives home, I hope to God he or she will be stopped by An Garda Síochána and arrested. That is what should be done.

There is an idea out there that this is a blame game. Like everything else, people have to start standing up for themselves. I have heard this for years. I managed football teams and businesses. When someone is caught drinking and driving or taking too much drink there is always someone else to blame. I believe it is time we stood up to that. The main emphasis here is over-consumption, and my main concern is underage drinking. If functions are giving out free drink to people who are underage those responsible should be prosecuted. However, there is too much emphasis placed on blaming people. In Dundalk and in County Louth there are many distilleries. I love to visit distilleries. I do not drink but I love seeing how the drink is manufactured. It is fantastic. When I go to these distilleries for a tour the first thing I am offered is a cup of tea or a scone. They do not push drink into people.

We have to learn to say no, to take responsibility, and to stop blaming people. We have to take the responsibility ourselves.

I ask any other Member who wishes to contribute to have a look at the amendments. This is not a Second Stage debate. This amendment concerns the removal of the word "and". I do not want to stifle debate, but this should not be seen as an opportunity for a Second Stage debate. I know that Deputy Danny Healy-Rae will concentrate on the amendment.

I have many concerns about how the Bill has progressed, because at the beginning it sought to protect youngsters from drinking too much and to stop alcohol from being too readily available at cheap prices for them. However, this Bill has gone all over the place, proposing to cover bottles with cancer warnings, among other things.

This amendment would mean that people could not have a drink without being charged for it. I want to make a few points on this.

Many retrograde things have happened to rural Ireland since I came here. In rural Ireland, there is a thing called a wake. People go to wakes and stay with the family for a few hours, and a few drinks are given to the guests. Are we going to police an event like that, so that a person cannot take a drink at a wake? In rural Ireland there is also something called a station, where mass is said in a house. Each house's turn comes around after four or five years. A few drinks are provided. However, as the Deputy said, to take a drink or not is a person's choice. I do not drink but I have nothing against those who do. The word is "moderation". This amendment is open to an interpretation whereby opening ceremonies or book launches, where a glass of wine is provided, would be illegal.

Rural Ireland has a thing called a ball night at which a locality or a parish celebrates. People dance and play music and drinks are available that do not have to be paid for. They are paid for by the people who organise the ball night. Likewise there are Biddy balls. I do not know if any Members know what a Biddy ball is.

I think one has to.

We enjoy those things in rural Ireland. Sadly, we do not have as many of them as we once had. Are we going to have a situation where gardaí could land at a Biddy ball like the priests would land at house dances long ago, coming in the front door to chase people out the back door and follow them down the road? Is that what we are going to have? This is ridiculous, to be honest. This Parliament has so many serious and important things to do.

That is 100% true.

To suggest that it will be illegal to be given a free drink or for someone to make free drink available is absolutely ridiculous. Where will the Government get enough gardaí to make sure the law is followed? Gardaí certainly have enough things to do. They are very busy without sending them after people who are having a free drink. This is ridiculous.

There are other issues around the cancer labelling. It has been said that it is not in this amendment but I will talk about it, because it is fairly ridiculous and stupid. It will also be fairly hurtful if it goes through. It looks to me as though some people have gone stone mad. Again, a person makes a choice about whether they want to have a drink. The choice is theirs. We set out to protect young people and we will certainly do our best, but this Bill is all over the shop. It is absolutely ridiculous.

We are not discussing the Bill. We are discussing an amendment.

I was talking about this amendment which suggests that it would be illegal for someone to be given a drink.

The Minister will explain to us whether that is the purpose.

I will follow the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's direction and speak only to the amendment. Opposition amendments Nos. 4 and 5 from Deputy O'Reilly try to expand the definition of "sell" in the Bill to include "supply for the purpose of promoting the use of another service" and "supply in the purchase of another good or service". As Deputy O'Reilly knows, the Minister of the day already has the ability to address this matter under section 23 of the Bill. Section 23 gives the Minister for Health of the day the power to make regulations to address exactly the type of issues being targeted here. Under section 23, the Minister may make regulations to prohibit or restrict selling alcohol at a reduced price or giving it free of charge on the purchase of another product or service. I am not sure what product or service would be sold at a wake.

Regulations may prohibit or restrict the selling of alcohol at a reduced price for a limited period, defined as three days or less, and selling alcohol at a reduced price or giving it free in a manner likely to encourage the consumption of alcohol in a harmful way.

What Deputy O'Reilly is trying to do is extraordinarily sensible. She is trying to ensure that the use of alcohol as a promotional tool when trying to sell another event is restricted or prohibited. I am responding by saying that in my view her amendments are not necessary. The Minister of the day already has this power under section 23.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 12, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

“(d) data from health services relating to alcohol related presentations at health facilities,”.

The primary aim of this legislation is to reduce the harm caused by alcohol to individuals, families, communities and society as a whole. One of the key indicators of the level of harm caused by alcohol misuse is alcohol-related presentations at health facilities. There are three alcohol-related deaths in Ireland every single day. Alcohol currently places a huge burden on our health service, taking up an estimated 1,500 hospital beds in this country every night. According to the Health Research Board, HRB, €1.5 billion was spent on hospital discharges in 2012. This does not include the significant costs incurred by our emergency departments, which often bear the brunt of our excessive alcohol consumption .

We believe that in any consideration of the Bill or sections thereof the Minister should therefore have regard to the data from the health services relating to alcohol presentations at health facilities, as these can provide us with important routine information on the health harms due to alcohol, as well as the impact on the health services themselves. I understand that the Minister has included sections related to health and social factors but we believe that the collation of these data is particularly relevant. Alcohol-related incidents and presentations from alcohol-related illness have a significant cost to our health service in resources, beds and staff. Given that we are legislating and making a public policy decision on alcohol, we believe that these considerations must be taken into account.

I urge those Deputies who have an interest in this to think long and hard before they interrupt or try to delay this legislation. This is an amendment that I have discussed extensively with men and women who are working in our hospitals and are on the front line providing counselling and other services, as well as with those who have suffered from alcohol harm and their families. I ask anybody who intends to make a contribution to please keep those people in mind.

I had an economics professor who used to say that good policy internalises the negative externalities. I had no idea what he was talking about for a very long time, but after a while I got my head around it. What he meant was this. There is a bunch of things we do that have consequences, positive and negative. In the world of economists these are externalities. The problem is that if they cause harm and no account is taken of that harm, society is unbalanced. We have not accounted for the negative externalities within public policy. His view was that wherever possible we should internalise or account for some of the damaging things that happen in our society. Everyone in the Chamber probably agrees that alcohol-related presentations at emergency departments are a real problem.

In some cases, people might not have a huge amount of sympathy for those presenting. In many cases, those who have presented due to alcohol-related mischief are seen before those who were not drinking excessively and who really do need to be seen. I support the amendment because it is important. It is an important first step. We need to understand the data. This would greatly increase the ability of our clinicians, particularly those working in emergency departments, to be able to show us the evidence. Then we can legislate and regulate accordingly.

I support the amendment because anybody who visits an accident and emergency department or any other health facility will see the devastation alcohol causes, the increased workload it brings on staff and the danger it brings to staff working in accident and emergency departments. As Deputy Donnelly said, quite often people who need urgent care are displaced because of alcohol overdose and misuse. It also leads to increased levels of suicide and road traffic accidents. It is not just the actual alcohol presentation, it is the cause of many other events that lead to people coming to hospital. This amendment should be accepted. What our health service most particularly lacks is proper data on many issues. It would be extremely important that we use this legislation to gather data on alcohol-related harm.

After 1,000 days of people discussing this I intend to be brief on Report Stage. Deputy O'Reilly is entirely correct that the amendment is very sensible. The Bill already provides in section 11(5) that the Minister should have regard to health-related risks and other societal harms caused by alcohol consumption when determining changes to minimum unit pricing. We have a variety of systems, including the hospital in-patient enquiry, HIPE, system, National Self-Harm Registry Ireland and the Health Research Board, which can assist in this, as well as the Healthy Ireland survey but the Deputy is entirely correct to highlight this issue. Alcohol and alcohol-related disease constitute a massive burden on the Irish health service, let alone a massive burden on Irish families and communities throughout the country. The amendment is sensible and it would be helpful. I propose to accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 8, 10, 13 and 14 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 13, line 31, after "form" to insert ", in both the English and Irish language".

These amendments refer to providing warnings to the public in Irish and English. There are two main reasons for this. One is the position of the Irish language in our society and Constitution. There are many people, and I hope it is a growing number, who live, eat, sleep, dream and go to the pub as Gaeilge. If we are serious about these public health warnings, which we are, then we must recognise there are many people in our society whose first language is Irish. It has primacy in our Constitution. As such, these warnings should be in both languages.

The second reason is to try to future-proof the Bill from challenge. As I laid out to the Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, on Committee Stage, when labelling for cigarettes was introduced, a High Court case was taken against the State by a teacher who argued he had a right for the warnings to be in Irish and English. My understanding is he won that court case. I do not want a situation whereby the labelling happens only in English and a High Court challenge is taken, which the Government loses, thus slowing down implementation of the Bill.

I have a big problem with this in that I do not want the labelling in English or Irish because, quite simply, it is making us the laughing stock of the rest of the world. Nowhere else do people feel fit to put these labels on alcohol. Why do we have to race to the bottom? We are speaking about putting it in Irish and English when we should not be putting it at all. It comes back to this thing called common sense. People know that if they take too much alcohol on a daily, weekly or monthly basis it will be bad for them. It is the same as sweet cake. Sweet cake is not bad for people if they take it in moderation but if they take it continuously in the morning, in the middle of the day and at night time they will get overweight and it will be bad for them. They will probably get diabetes and other medical problems so, therefore, it is bad. We should have everything in moderation. I do not see why we should go on this crusade that will give a bad impression of us to the rest of Europe and the world. People who come here will look at the alcohol products we sell here and we export, and we will be out of step with everybody else in that we will label them.

A great friend of mine, Michael O'Connor, is 104 years of age. Thankfully he is still with us and facing into his 105th year. On many occasions I have asked him what is the secret and if we cannot learn from a man who is 104, we can learn from nobody. He always looks up at the sky, throws his head back and says "everything in moderation". It is okay to drink, it is okay to eat and it is okay to do everything, but do it in moderation.

Does he speak Irish?

They are the words of wisdom of a man who is 104 years of age. I do not think we have to be labelling our products in any language to educate people to the fact if they do too much of one thing it is bad for them.

I appreciate that Deputy Donnelly is very genuine in his motives but it is wrong. Coming back to the industry, it will put us at a disadvantage to everybody else. People in the respectable drinks industry have worked hard to create employment and build up businesses. This matter is causing great concern to people in the drinks industry in Ireland who create employment and who have borrowed money from banks to open breweries. They are involved in the sale of alcohol. They are not criminals. They are decent, hard-working respectable people who are giving employment. They are in every town and area. They sell alcohol but now are looking at the prospect of being at a disadvantage to the rest of the world because they will have to put these labels on the alcohol. Not only are they being told to put it in one language but they are being told they will have to put it in two languages. Why do we not state we will put it in every language there is, including French, Italian and German? We may as well have nothing on the bottle save a big piece of paper explaining this is a very dangerous concoction that might actually stretch people if they drink too much of it. For God's sake, we have lost the run of ourselves in here and I mean that.

I support the amendments tabled by my colleague. What surprises me about this issue is that it was necessary to table an amendment because it was not provided for by the Minister, and that the Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, had not suggested to him to deal with this issue. It should become standard practice where new legislation on signage or labels is introduced that they are done in both official languages. No other state in the world would introduce national legislation to have an official notification such as this in only one official language. Perhaps the Minister will explain to us why it was not provided for in the original Bill and why it took an Opposition Deputy to remind him of all of the commitments made by the Taoiseach and Ministers.

The Minister of State, Deputy McHugh, is always telling us about the Government's love of and commitment to the Irish language. It makes a difference to people to see any language in everyday use. It has a major effect on the acceptance of the language as being the ordinary language of dialogue and not just a language of cúpla focail.

I understand the Minister has said there is now a difficulty because of oversight and he would have to go back to Europe to get permission for this. It demonstrates how serious was this oversight, and I would be interested to hear how the Minister will deal with these three amendments. I understand there may not be a difficulty with some of them but how will the Minister rectify an oversight on his part?

I call Deputy Danny Healy-Rae. These amendments relate to having the health information in two languages.

I am very concerned by this cancer warning label.

We are not talking about that now.

It should not be there at all.

That is not the issue.

If it should not be there in English, it should not be there in Irish either. This was added to the legislation just before Christmas last year with no analysis to justify its merits or how effective the measure would be. It is important to point out that no other country in the world has introduced mandatory cancer warnings on alcohol products and this will put us completely out of step with the rest of the European Union and the world. This is promised at a time when our beer and whiskey sectors are starting to show promising growth.

There is a brewery in Dingle and approximately 100 microbreweries in Ireland, along with 18 whiskey distilleries. There is a very important facility on the Muckross road in Killarney, the Killarney Brewing Company. How will these people manage if a third of the label must have a warning? This is ridiculous.

The Deputy should concentrate on amendment No. 8, which is to insert the health information in both English and Irish. Even if the amendment is defeated, the warning will be there in English anyway. We must focus on the amendment.

I will vote against it in English and in Irish.

The Deputy will have the opportunity to do that.

I thought we were taking amendments Nos. 8, 10, 13 and 15 together.

It is amendments Nos. 8, 10, 13 and 14.

It is worth considering whether introducing cancer labels will solve our problems with harmful or underage drinking.

The Bill started with minimum unit pricing.

Deputy Healy-Rae, you are an intelligent man. That is not what we are discussing. All the amendments relate to the information being in both English and Irish. Let us focus on that. There were other opportunities for Second Stage debates. I am trying to be helpful. We are not doing what is a traditional Report Stage debate. Down through the years such debates had a certain focus but now it seems every discussion on an amendment is like a Second Stage speech, if I allow it. I cannot allow that to continue so I ask the Deputy to co-operate.

We are doing a pile of harm to the microbreweries.

People can make up their minds whether they want English or Irish on the labels. That is what we are discussing.

They should not be there in English or Irish.

You can vote on that.

I am sure these amendments are well-intentioned but we do not live in a perfect world, although we are trying to make it a little better. If we were to accept these three amendments relating to the Irish language, it would not make any practical difference. The effect will be either to reduce the font for the warning, as the warning will in any case take up a third of the label, or it will reduce the content of the warning.

That is a genuine issue.

It will most likely end up reducing the content of the warning. This type of political correctness makes no practical sense. The purpose of the Bill is to try to warn people of the dangers of alcohol, and inserting the warning in Irish is completely unnecessary.

I thank Deputy Donnelly for his amendments and engagement on this. As I said to him directly, I know he put down these amendments in an effort to improve the Bill with respect to labelling and notification, and not for any other motive, as I saw wrongly attributed to him. As I already mentioned to Deputy Donnelly, amendment No. 8 relates to the requirement to have the health information on the labels of alcohol products in Irish and English. I am conscious that in order to achieve the objectives of the Bill, the provisions in it must be workable. We need to maintain the balance between what is beneficial to our citizens for the protection of their health - this is a piece of public health legislation and a new departure relating to alcohol - and the new obligations being placed on our commercial operators. The balance is to promote public health in a way that is proportionate.

We are asking businesses to work with us in changing our products and providing health information for the very first time. We are moving from a position where today there is no health information on the product to adding six new pieces of information. I understand this is a new approach and it will bring new burdens for business. If a requirement is added that information must be in two languages - Deputy Harty's point is valid - we will need different fonts and there is the potential to distort what we are trying to do in putting very clear information out there.

There is a further practical reality that is the main reason I am not in a position to propose accepting amendment No. 8. It is a reality referenced by Deputy Ó Cuív. If we were to make any changes to the requirement for health information on the labels to be in Irish it could delay the passage of the legislation through the Oireachtas and the enactment of the Bill. It would not affect the labels. Any additional requirement relating to labels would have to be notified and assessed at an EU level before enactment.

Deputy Ó Cuív suggests that either I or perhaps the Government of which I am a part do not care for the Irish language, which he of course knows not to be true. Nonetheless, in addition to the practical concern I am conscious that we must in a public health Bill ensure that information on the label is clear and effective. It must be the paramount objective. A study was commissioned from Amárach Research in August 2015 to provide recommendations on how to best communicate critical information through labelling on the risk relating to alcohol consumption. There must be an evidence base to this and we must ensure this is an effective way of communicating. The research indicates that the inclusion of the information in another language on labels served to confuse the message being relayed.

There are practical reasons arising from the EU's standstill period and we would not be able to pass the legislation as a result. It is something Deputy Donnelly and I have discussed. I do not propose to accept amendment No. 8. However, in the interests of compromise and accepting exactly what Deputy Donnelly is trying to do, I propose to accept amendments Nos. 10 and 13. These are sensible amendments and they require health information to be available in Irish as well as English on notices in licensed premises and on websites where alcohol products are sold online. I have also discussed with the HSE through my Department's own website, www.askaboutalcohol.ie, and all the relevant information there will also be included in the Irish language. I genuinely accept the importance of the Irish language and giving it prominence in the discussion. I propose the compromise would be that it would not be on the labels but on the website and the notices.

I have done a legal check on Deputy Donnelly's point about previous court cases. The very clear legal advice available to me is that the case was different because tobacco warnings related to an EU directive and what we are doing tonight is pioneering.

Amendment No. 14 proposes that data from health services and alcohol-related presentations at health facilities should be taken into account when making regulations on the health warnings and information. It is Deputy O'Reilly's amendment and the idea is that we would take that into consideration on labels, notices in licensed premises and websites that sell alcohol products. This amendment is very much the same model she used with regard to the minimum unit pricing discussion we had only a few minutes ago. It is a sensible amendment and I propose its acceptance. Therefore, I propose we accept amendments Nos. 10, 13 and 14. I am not in a position to accept amendment No. 8, with the most important reason being the practicalities involved in getting this legislation passed. There is also the concern about clarity of messaging on labels.

If the Minister analyses what he said-----

-----he will realise just how extraordinarily ignorant it is. For example, what the Minister stated here today is that were the European Union to bring in an directive, following his good lead, to the effect that this had to be done across Europe, suddenly the label would become non-effective in Ireland because it would have to be then bilingual. The directive that forced it on the cigarette packages would force it here.

Supposing Belgium decided tomorrow to follow the good example of Ireland - as the Minister will be aware, Belgium is a rigidly bilingual society in terms of such matters - the Minister is stating the label would have no effect, that it would put everybody astray and that it would not work because it would be in French and Flemish. The Minister's own argument does not stand up to any rational scrutiny of what happens in other countries where there is a bilingual situation and where there are two official languages. It is only in Ireland that the Minister's argument washes as being a cogent one.

I certainly agree with my colleague that because of the Minister's carelessness in this issue and his attitude, which is that we love the Irish language but will not do anything practical for it, we have no choice because none of us want to hold up this Bill. I am on the record as saying that we have a major issue with alcohol in this country. Therefore, we have no choice but to accept that the Minister will not accept the amendment.

However, to think that the Minister's arguments are cogent, I have to say the more the Minister is effecting them the more he will know they were very weak because many countries have bilingual requirements and they manage to get the message across.

I thank the Minister for his detailed response.

I will start by addressing a point suggested by Deputy Harty that seeking to have public warnings and public communications in Irish is somehow a sop to political correctness. I do not believe it is. The Irish language is important and we need to take it seriously. We need to recognise there are people who live through Irish, who think, shop and consume through Irish and they have a right to be warned through their active language. I must disagree that this is some concept of political correctness.

Deputy Ó Cuív laid out well the point on the labelling. I would like to see it on the labelling for all of the right reasons. However, under no circumstances do I want to hold this Bill up. Therefore, I will withdraw the amendment.

As to the legal challenge, I am sure whoever brought in the warnings on the cigarette packets got legal advice as well that they would be fine and that legal advice turned out to be untrue. We will see. I hope this time it is correct. I will withdraw amendment No. 8 regarding the bilingual labelling and acknowledge the Minister is accepting the bilingual requirements for both the website and the signage.

Having heard the Minister's response, I am all the more concerned with regard to this specific issue. Anything the Minister said certainly does not convince me. I am listening attentively to what my colleagues are saying. We have not thought through the enormity of what we are doing here, the implications it will have and what it will mean.

While I respect Deputies such as Deputy Ó Cuív who have made a contribution on their viewpoint on the use of the Irish language on the warnings, we are losing sight completely of what we should be doing here. We are going down a dangerous road with which I could not agree. Deputy Donnelly is making fair and reasoned arguments but I think they are wrong. They are ignoring the industry. I could not agree with it. The Minister's response is of no comfort to me.

I am resigned to the fact, 1,000 days into this, that no matter what I say I will not convince some people on the benefits of this legislation. I will continue to answer the questions respectfully but I am resigned to the fact that I will not change many minds in the Oireachtas tonight.

I am also sure that there is significant public support for this legislation. I am sure that the people from whom I take my advice on public health policy, namely, doctors, nurses, front-line staff and staff working with those with addiction support it, as do the National Youth Council of Ireland and the National Women's Council of Ireland, who represent a broad coalition of stakeholders right across civic society.

As for the Irish language, nobody owns it. Nobody loves it more than-----

Some of us speak it every day.

It is that sort of condescending attitude that suggests Deputy Ó Cuív loves it more than anybody else.

It is just a fact.

It was not a careless decision. It was a conscious-----

It was a careless decision.

Excuse me, Deputy Ó Cuív.

That is even more serious.

The Minister, without interruption. No bilaterals.

It is very serious because it was a conscious decision to make-----

Which is even more serious.

The Minister, to continue.

It is a conscious decision to make sure that when we put labels on our alcohol, a product that causes harm, it will be clear as possible.

Deputy Ó Cuív is correct that if a directive came in, it would need to be in both languages. That is entirely correct. Deputy Ó Cuív will be aware, as a former Aire, that this is also correct. Let me also tell the Deputy that regardless of whether that is correct, it would still be less effective. I am in the business of evidence-based policies and evidence-based politics. That is the decision we have taken in this regard. I have worked well with the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on health, who has not felt the need to condescend in relation to this issue, in a bipartisan manner.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle-----

No, Deputy Ó Cuív does not have an opportunity.

The Minister has accused me of being condescending.

Deputy Ó Cuív has been in twice.

There is a big difference between somebody who speaks the language every day and his or her experiences of life and those who do not.

That is a reality of life that non-Irish speakers often do not appreciate.

We do not want to reach an impasse.

People who are trying to rear their families with Irish as their home language face significant challenges because of the condescending attitude of the Minister.

Does the Minister want to clarify that Deputy Ó Cuív was being condescending?

No, I have said all I wish to say. I would like to pass the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 13, to delete lines 36 and 37.

First, everyone here agrees with the spirit of the Bill. We all acknowledge that alcohol is a major problem right around the country. Most families, including my own, have been touched by problems with alcohol. However, there is being realistic and unrealistic. The reality is I did not drink Heineken because I saw the Heineken Cup. However, some members in my family had a problem with alcohol and I thank God that I do not.

The Minister may correct me if I am wrong. I spoke to members of the legal profession and the European Union controls the food and drink regulations in respect of labelling. If we are being honest around this House, we will be aware that putting this cancer label on it will not end up being legal. Secretly, when one talks to people around this House, many admit that it will not happen. We are running down a road. Do we move then to every bit of processed food, to sweets and to everything else where the same risk is involved because there is evidence that too much of all these other things causes cancer as well?

The other side of it is that there are breweries around this country. Everyone around the House supported the Bill Deputy Kelly brought in to help those in rural areas who set up microbreweries.

For those breweries to put one label on bottles they sell in Ireland and not on others will be a fiasco. Something of the order of 850,000 Yanks and people from other countries are coming here. They will look at this and say "My God, I will never touch this again in Ireland" while the same product is exported to their countries with nothing on it. What we are trying to do in respect of our own bit of employment is unbelievable. The nub of the issue is whether we are going down a road where every item we eat or drink will need to carry a warning. Too many minerals are bad for a person. The same is true of sweets so we had better put a warning on sweet packets. We had better put warnings on every single thing or else nothing. I know the Minister is straightforward. He knows that the legal opinion and the attitude in Europe is very questionable and it does not appear that this will be a runner. We are going to come to this House, therefore, put it to a vote and then decide a few months later. This will be in the balance for three years. We are in between the devil and the deep blue sea. We do not know what will happen.

The Minister should row back on this until we have clarification one way or the other. I am concerned about small businesses, especially the small breweries. Are we targeting them? Are we leaving ourselves open? It is fine if the Minister is going to say that this causes cancer but in respect of how many things will we be obliged to do this? Will we have to do it in the context of meat, sweets and every other thing? One cannot have one thing different to others when there is proof that too much of anything, as Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said earlier, causes problems for everybody. This is the one thing I would ask the Minister to reconsider.

The purpose of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is to tackle alcohol misuse, underage drinking and overall consumption. It is in no one's interest to see alcohol products misused. I support the overall objective of the Bill but I have a difficulty with a small number of provisions, including that relating to the cancer warning. This label will destroy the reputation of Irish products which compete globally. Consumer warnings should be accurate. A general warning against excessive consumption of alcohol makes more sense than mentioning one disease.

It is vital that the Government invests in public information campaigns and, in particular, education programmes targeted at young people. The HSE has a low-risk drinking guideline and it is important that we raise awareness of this among people. This should be done before introducing a cancer warning on alcohol products. The Bill already provides for a general health warning on alcohol products that is separate from the cancer warning, the pregnancy warning and other mandatory labelling. Focusing on one health issue, namely, cancer, does not give a full or accurate picture to help consumers make informed choices about their drinking. As previous speakers noted, although the cancer labelling only applies to alcohol in this Bill there is a risk that cancer warnings will then be extended to other Irish food products such as processed meat, red meat, bacon and smoked fish, which is a major concern to the food and drink industry as a whole.

I am disappointed that no debate took place in the Seanad on Fifth Stage.

Has the Department of Health supplied a scientific file to the European Commission to justify the introduction of cancer warning labels? The Minister has stated that this provision will not come into effect for three years after the point at which the European Commission approves the labels. This means that the European Commission must approve the labels and then it will be three to five years before they become compulsory.

We need to have a conversation about where we are going from here and its impact on small breweries and distilleries especially. As I said earlier, we do need to combat the abuse of alcohol. Imposing a cancer warning on Irish products will harm the reputation of Irish producers and Ireland's reputation as a nation known for producing high-quality food and drink and will denigrate Irish products on the global market. No other country in the world has done this. This Government is also busy encouraging distillery and brewery tourism because it knows the importance of this for rural development. I have visited breweries and distilleries in my county, Louth, including Cooley Distillery, which is located only ten miles from Dundalk and which has been in operation since 1987. It employs over 70 people directly, and more indirectly, in an area where employment is limited. The company has invested €14 million since 2012 and has increased its shipment by 400% since 2011.

I welcome two things. The Minister assured me that there would be no issue with directional signs to promote breweries and distilleries to tourists. It is good news especially for my home town of Dundalk and the Great Northern Distillery and Cooley Distillery. I also welcome that the labelling requirement will not apply to export products. I realise that there is not a family in this country that has not had experience of cancer. It is an awful disease and I agree that every effort must be made to destroy it. My job is to represent my constituents and I am not going to make any apology for it. I am a very health conscious person but I think that this is a step too far. The one thing I like about the Minister is that he is approachable and a man of his word. As a Fine Gael Deputy, I am disappointed with what is happening but I also respect what the Minister is doing. I appreciate the two commitments given to me this evening by the Minister in respect of exports and directional signs.

I am a firm believer that one's health is one's wealth. The mere mention of the word "cancer" sends a shiver down my spine. However, people must take responsibility and sometimes say "No". That is the way to go.

I fully support the overall objective of the Bill, which is to tackle alcohol abuse and underage drinking. I welcome the targeted and evidence-based measures that will help us to address these issues. I would like the Minister to help us along the way by answering a number of questions as part of my process of obtaining an understanding of the right way to finalise this Bill. I do not want to delay it. There is a perception that people who have problems with the Bill want to delay it. I see no reason why this Bill cannot go forward tonight if some of the issues that concern us are addressed. I am also enough of a realist to know that democracy reigns. I have no doubt that when the vote is held in this House that the Bill will be passed so let us start from there. In the interests of democracy, as Deputy Fitzpatrick noted, we have an obligation to represent those in work and, equally, those who may have issues with alcohol abuse.

I wish to put two questions to the Minister. Will he clarify his belief regarding the timing of the introduction of this labelling? Will he clarify the position regarding the warning comprising one third of the printed material on labels? I have not been informed as to whether this stipulation has been removed from the legislation.

I refer to the knock-on effect of this on producers, especially the small producers to whom Deputy Fitzmaurice and others referred. In the past two years, ten microbreweries have set up operations in my constituency. These are in addition to the larger ones mentioned by Deputy Fitzpatrick and their owners are seriously concerned about the costs that might come into play.

I want to make something clear. Those of us who are debating this issue - and I can certainly speak for myself in this regard - are not seeking to stall the process. I will support the Bill but I want reassurances about the outcome.

Imposing cancer warnings on alcohol products will affect people in my constituency. I will name one microbrewery - Listoke - which is employing 14 people. It is one of ten microbreweries established in the past ten years to which I just referred. Nobody should doubt that the reputational damage which will result from the requirement to put these labels on certain products will cause a problem for this country's drinks industry. I have said publicly that if a product is sold without a label in our airports and the same product on a shelf somewhere in Ireland has a label on it, anybody with common sense who is in opposition and who wants to promote their product will display the two items and ask what in the name of God the Irish people are trying to do by telling people in other countries that the product is not carcinogenic and telling their own people that it is. I have a difficulty with that. No other country has taken such a step. We have played a pioneering role in many other instances. I refer, for example, to introducing the plastic bag tax and the smoking ban. We are entitled to a level playing field. I do not believe this Bill will do that for us. I am concerned about it. That is why I am speaking this evening.

While I do not want to be repetitive, I have to remind Deputy Fitzpatrick that we already have warnings in relation to pregnancy and other issues. People generally know that excess use of alcohol will harm their health. The reality of this legislative process is that minimum pricing will help to stop the type of binge drinking that is happening. It would have been preferable if the Government had stuck to its original commitment to include a general warning. I am a realist with regard to what will be the outcome. Sometimes a whip is cracked in that regard.

As I stated when this Bill was being debated some time ago, it makes a laugh when we talk about the Irish language, which I fully support. It could be some help. Whiskey is called uisce beatha or the water of life. We demonise drink - and rightly so when taken to excess - but the producers of the products we are talking about have been demonised as well. There is a conflict. As others are saying, the reality is that we have choices to make. Ultimately, people have to make those choices. It is important for this House to legislate to protect those who are not able to make choices. In that respect, I fully support the Bill, but I am concerned that the Minister needs to provide details of the timing of the introduction of these measures.

Those involved with breweries need to be given an opportunity to prepare for the new regime. Regardless of whether this is right or wrong, they know it is going to happen. They need to be able to minimise the cost. Those involved with small breweries in particular need to be able to cope with it. When does the Minister realistically expect that this Bill will be implemented in full? I think we are entitled to have that perspective in this House.

I am delighted to have an opportunity to contribute. I have been criticised for tabling amendments to this Bill. We live in a democracy. I will keep my discussions on these amendments brief. It is important that the case for them is made. I am trying to reflect what people in my constituency have been saying to me. I meet a lot of people who think this Bill goes a step too far. They believe there are other ways in which we could be tackling this problem and working to make sure our young people understand the effects of extreme drinking. We tend to take the easy and sensational route. We want to pat ourselves on the back and say that Ireland will be the first country in the world to put cancer labelling on bottles, instead of doing the real work that is needed to tackle underage drinking, a matter about which I am more worried.

When I listened to Deputies talking about cancer labelling in English and cancer labelling in Irish, I was afraid that before we finish there will be a requirement to have a little booklet hanging onto every bottle. The way we are going, a person will have to read such a booklet before he or she can buy alcohol. There is no common sense. There is not one bit of common sense going on in here.

I do not know when the last time I took a drink was. Maybe it was three weeks, a month or six weeks ago. I cannot remember. I rarely have time to drink. The way things are going, we will nearly be driven to drink in here as we try to put a bit of common sense into the rules and regulations we make in here.

Of course, this will not be a runner in Europe. We know why it will not be a runner. The rest of Europe will not damage its drinks industry. A person from abroad who comes to this country will read that he or she might get cancer by drinking a bottle of beer, or by having a drink in Ireland. That will not be seen in his or her own country. All we are doing is making a mockery of ourselves and damaging an industry that creates a great deal of employment for people. I think we have forgotten all about it.

I wonder whether democracy is going out the window here. From what I gather, people have been gagged inside here. They are nearly allowed to speak on this, but they are hardly allowed to vote on it. We live in a democracy. People should be allowed to say what they say. Every Member who has been elected to this House speaks to his or her constituents. We are getting a very clear message from our constituents. I am bringing the clear message I am getting back to the Dáil.

As I have stated previously, I would not be big into the old drink myself. I will say something that I have continued to say. It relates to something that the Minister and others have failed to do. If the Minister wants to send a message to the people of the Irish Republic about the damage that drink is doing to this country, he should close the Dáil bar. I have said it time and again. It could be kept open as a little café so that jobs are not lost. The closure of the Dáil bar would send a serious message. The Minister will not do it, however. No other party here will bring it forward.

The Minister has an opportunity to start leading by example by closing the Dáil bar. We should not have a place of drink in our place of work. This would send a message to the whole world, but the Minister will not do it.

It has nothing to do with me.

I totally oppose any cancer labelling of drink. There are traces of carcinogens in red meat and in smoked salmon. What is next? When one is buying bacon from the butcher, should he have to run out and put a sticker on it saying that one might get cancer if one eats it? The same point can be made in respect of smoked salmon. What are we going to do next? Are we going to eat at all? Are we going to drink? Are we going to be reading books instead? Maybe we would lose a whole lot of weight. I do not know. We are going down a very strange road.

A good few years ago, I put forward submissions to tackle underage drinking but nobody took any notice of them. Many people over the age of 18 buy alcohol in off-licences for people under the age of 18. I made a sensible proposal for tracing alcohol after it has been sold, from the person who bought it in the first instance to the person who ends up drinking it, but it was ignored. I think that is the road we should be travelling here, instead of doing the most sensational thing. Of course it will be grand. It will sell a few headlines. In the long term, it will not do much other than damage employment and damage this country abroad as well.

There is nobody in this House or in this country who does not know about the damage that alcohol does to people. I am sure we have all seen it at first hand inside or outside our families. At the same time, we have to be reasonable. Below-cost selling is part of the problem. I was in a shop the other day where one could buy two cans of lager for the price of one bottle of coke. It cost €2.50 for a bottle of coke and €2.50 for two cans of lager. If that is not creating problems, I do not know what is. It is something that really needs to be addressed.

I do not think cancer labelling will stop people drinking. Somebody asked me to get two packets of cigarettes the other day and take them out into the country where I was going. Thank God I stopped smoking 15 years ago. When I got the cigarettes, I saw the pictures on the packets depicting what cigarettes can do when they lead to cancer. I asked the person for whom I was getting the cigarettes whether he had looked at the pictures. He said he does not pass any heed of them. My God above, if that type of warning does not frighten people, I do not know what will. In that context, I would like to get clarification on the requirement to divide the label into sections of one third and two thirds.

Since 2011, the only jobs that came to my home town in County Sligo were those created by two young men who started a microbrewery. Today, they employ 30 people. The product is not sold very much in this country but it is being exported. It is doing very well and the company hopes to increase the number of staff by 20. In Drumshanbo a man took a chance on buying a closed-down jam factory and started making gin, Gunpowder Gin. The distillery employs over 30 people today. The man intends to employ many more. The product is sold across Ireland and in 50 countries globally. This is the current position on small breweries and distilleries. In Sligo, on the shores of Lough Gill, there is a proposal for a distillery. In fact, the whiskey is there already. There is to be a €25 million investment, which is to create at least 100 jobs. I am making these points because of the economic benefit of microbreweries and distilleries in the area I represent. There is another brewery starting out in Sligo and it currently has 15 staff.

We need to have a balanced approach to labelling. On the one hand, the Government is encouraging new distilleries and whiskey-related tourism, seeing it as an important driver of rural development. It is and there is no doubt that it means significant growth for the economy. Some 2.5 million visitors visited distilleries and breweries right across the country this year. In my home town, there was an open day at the brewery. Irish Rail ran a special train and 1,500 people turned up at the small brewery. To be quite honest, I do not understand it. I do not know what the people see in it but it is a growing tourism business. We should not do anything that would do any damage to that.

I fully accept the damage alcohol does. As Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick said, people have choices. While 99.9% of people can go out and enjoy a drink, there are those who cannot. Unfortunately it takes a grip on a percentage of people and causes havoc in houses across the country. I ask the Minister for clarification on the two thirds–one third ratio on the labels that will be put on bottles.

I acknowledge the presence in the Gallery of Senator Frances Black. We all know she has done fantastic work on this issue.

The point has been made that we are all aware of the damage alcohol causes, yet in the same breath people say they do not really want to take the measures necessary to do something about it. It is a little shocking to me that people need to be reminded but this Bill is called a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. "Health" is the key word.

For the information of people who might not be aware, alcohol is classified as a group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer because there is a proven causal link between alcohol and several types of cancers. Alcohol consumption can cause cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bowel and female breast. All of these cancers show evidence of a dose–response relationship. The risk of cancer increases steadily in line with greater volumes of alcohol consumption. When we say we are all aware of the harm that can be caused by alcohol, we need to name it and acknowledge it, and then we need to take steps to reduce it wherever we can.

In this State, the proportion of alcohol-related deaths from cancer is higher than the European average. That suggests we may need to take more measures than others in Europe or perhaps that we should not be ashamed of being able to provide a little leadership on this issue. Research has shown that alcohol is associated with approximately 900 new cancer cases and 500 cancer deaths annually. More than half of all head and neck cancers and 12% of breast cancers in Ireland were found to be associated with alcohol consumption. As one of the Deputies pointed out, when we see or hear the word "cancer" we shudder. That is the point of the labelling. It is to ensure that people consider before having a drink what they might be doing. People can make an informed choice. I am very proud to support the idea of providing people with the information they might need so they can make an informed choice.

Despite the demonstrated links between alcohol consumption and ill health, alcohol continues to be advertised heavily as though it were not a toxic substance. It is assumed that consumers have access to the information that they require to make informed choices. The debate here this evening proves that more information is indeed required. In numerous studies and journals published by the British General Medical Council, it was found that providing detailed warnings about cancer risk and alcohol products was a viable means of increasing public awareness of the health risks associated with alcohol consumption. In one study, responses to the cancer statement were neutral to favourable, indicating that they were unlikely to encounter high levels of negative reaction from the community if introduced on alcoholic beverages. Females, younger respondents and those with higher levels of education generally found the statements to be more believable, convincing and personally relevant. Therefore, cancer warning statements on alcoholic beverages constitute a potential means of increasing awareness about the relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer risk. We should be able to agree that this is one step we very definitely need to take, and we should support it. We cannot go back to the days of the tobacco industry, when the interests of the industry were put before people's health.

The issue of the Dáil bar has been raised. I am already on record as supporting the argument made in this regard. With regard to alcohol consumption and the potential harm, we can lead by example by installing a small café instead of the Dáil bar.

Go raibh maith agat as ucht an deis labhairt ar an topaic seo. I support the objectives of this Bill. I am very aware of the culture and difficulties we have with alcohol. We are all very aware of them. It is condescending and downright disingenuous to assert that we are ignorant of that fact; we are not. What we are saying here, however, is that part of this Bill lacks common sense. Many of us here are from rural counties. We have stated quite clearly the serious impact that labelling will have on businesses and on our industry, including breweries, right across this country. The Minister is not taking that on board. If the label goes on, will it be extended to our food sector? Will it severely damage our agrifood sector, which is already under tremendous strain with the onset of Brexit? The proposal lacks common sense. It is not well thought out. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to include the labelling proposal.

It is very unfair to accuse us here of being detached or disconnected. We all have families with alcohol problems and family members who have had or have cancer. It is downright disingenuous to accuse us of being ignorant of that fact. We are very well aware it. We have been pragmatic and reasonable here, and we are just putting to the Minister the idea that cancer warnings on labels will not have an impact. We need to look to our education system and develop programmes through it. There should be more programmes run by the HSE. We need more of these if we are to tackle this issue.

Numerous studies have been conducted to ascertain links between alcohol and cancer. Like every single person here, I welcome that research. Despite numerous attempts to establish cause and correlation, in many cases there has been an absence of scientific evidence to substantiate the assertions. Alcohol abuse is a complex and social problem-----

That is completely unscientific.

I did not interrupt the Deputy. Again, is the Deputy a rural Deputy?

Check the science.

It is not all about Dublin or other cities.

(Interruptions).

I have every right to speak here.

I ask Members to allow Deputy Nolan to make her contribution. Show some respect for Deputy Nolan and the Chair.

Alcohol abuse is a complex and social problem and it requires a multifaceted approach, not one approach that is doomed to fail. I do not believe we will tackle the problems we have through crude, misleading and perhaps downright untruthful health warnings on our alcohol products. There is every reason to believe that this proposal is doomed to fail at EU level. That has been said by some people in the Minister's Department so let us deal with that. Why bring forward a provision in a Bill that is doomed to fail? Deputy Harris is the Minister for Health so surely he can make a good call on this.

I wish to mention briefly the impact these measures will have on the distilleries and breweries that have diversified in recent years to become visitor centres. We have heard many Government Deputies talking about breweries and, indeed, we have seen them photographed at the opening of many breweries and distilleries throughout the country. Now the Minister is trying to destroy them. In recent years we have built our national tourism strategy on visitor experiences rather than tourist destinations. The Irish food and drink experience has now become an internationally traded tourism message and many small breweries and distilleries have diversified to incorporate visitor centres and the tasting experience. These operations are not primary alcohol wholesale or retail outlets yet they are at risk of being caught in a legislative net that never set out to trap them. Parts of this Bill have not been thought through properly. Derogations must be made to protect these visitor centres, many of which are a living history interpretation of age old crafts.

These centres have become important ingredients in the development of tourism activity in rural locations. We are depending on this. Our local economies are dependent on it and they will collapse, not that people in Dublin appear to care anyway. The centres have become a vital contributor to rural economies. In my constituency of Offaly, Tullamore Dew employs 120 people between the distillery at Clonminch and the visitor centre in the town. It attracts approximately 45,000 visitors. It was a huge investment project. I do not wish to see these positive developments impacted in a negative manner by sections in this Bill pertaining to misleading labelling and signage constraints, which will be dealt with later. These sections lack common sense and could do irreparable damage to the local economy of many rural counties. The Minister is here to represent rural Ireland as well.

I acknowledge the presence of the previous Minister of State, Deputy Corcoran Kennedy, who had a role prior to the Minister in bringing this Bill to the House. I have been a Member of the House for a couple of years and this was one of the first Bills brought before us for discussion. We sent it to the Seanad and I assumed that what was sent there would return as more or less what it was with regard to some of the items, until this issue of the labelling and cancer wording arose. I acknowledge that the purpose of the Bill was to tackle alcohol misuse, underage drinking and overall consumption.

Everybody can go into detail about how much alcohol creates cancer. Only a few months ago a tax levy was imposed on sugar. Sugar now has a health warning. We did not put tax on sugar because it was a premium product but because of a health issue and to prevent obesity. Obesity, unchecked, can lead to death. That is a fact. However, are there warnings about taking sugar in moderation on the packets? That is what will happen. Other products have been mentioned and meat could be the next target.

I am trying to suggest that there be some fairness and consideration. The Minister referred to signposting in public premises and pubs. Will it serve a purpose? I doubt that it will serve any purpose in the main pubs in Dublin because they are so packed the people would not get a chance to look at the walls. In rural Ireland, however, the pubs are closing every day. Since 2005, 25% of the pubs in County Cork have closed. Are we trying to put up more barriers to people going into these pubs to have a couple of drinks? We passed the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act which ensures that anybody caught driving while over the limit is penalised. What other penalties are we going to put on our rural pubs to deter people from going into them? The Minister will have to clarify where the signage will be if this Bill is passed. Will it be inside the front door - "Do not come in here for a drink or you will get cancer"? That is just with regard to rural pubs.

Most of my colleagues have referred to those not on the prohibition side. I respect the Members who tabled the amendments. It is ironic that in the last couple of weeks the Members who have introduced amendments to delete something or insert something in favour of relaxing how drink is treated have been castigated in the national press for delaying the Bill. Before we discussed these amendments other Members of the House were delaying the Bill because they wanted to sweeten it more for themselves and to play to some gallery. I am talking about common sense here, not political correctness as might be the case. Perhaps I will be corrected on that but we are using the democratic process to ensure that a fair Bill is eventually signed by Uachtarán na hÉireann and that it can be implemented for the well-being of the people of this country. However, it must be at a respectable level. We cannot go over the top.

How can we have a Minister for Health promoting cancer signs on drink bottles in his office while elsewhere in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and probably in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation Ministers are jetting around the country giving grants to open distilleries and microbreweries? We have the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine jetting abroad to promote drinks, which are not labelled, beverages and food. Back home, emerald Ireland is like Colombia. We can produce the cocaine but let the world suffer the consequences of it. That is what we are trying to tell the world. People can drink our drink abroad but they cannot drink it in Ireland because it will kill them. Using the analogy of Colombia might be a little too extreme but that is a fact. I heard last week that the Colombians have increased their cocaine production because they have markets throughout the world for it. I know that it is killing people.

In my backyard there are both types of industry, micro and large scale. Irish Distillers has grown tremendously over the last number of years. It provides jobs. It also provides a premium income for tillage farmers. This year the yields from tillage might have decreased a little because of the drought but those who supply Irish Distillers and Heineken Ireland are lucky enough to get a premium price for their grain and it ensures they make a living. We could be jeopardising all of that. Irish Distillers is growing fast. At present, there is a rumour that it might be thinking about relocating to another site, not just for storage but for another distillery because the capacity of its current location is limited.

There is a town in east Cork near Youghal that has been devastated by job losses down through the years. In fairness, Governments have tried to secure replacement jobs but they have had no success. As mentioned by some of my colleagues, rural Ireland will be forever dependent on indigenous industry, including micro-breweries and distilleries.

I ask for the Chair's indulgence as I have not spoken too much on the Bill before now. Why are we putting in place laws that are not compatible with EU law in this area?

There is regular reference in this Chamber to EU laws. The EU has not introduced this law, yet we are doing so. Who are we trying to placate? I ask the Minister, Deputy Harris, to pull back on this issue. I have to respect my party's view but I think there is need for reconsideration of this amendment. The Minister is pushing the boat out too far. I ask him to think of jobs and development in rural Ireland.

Before I call Deputy Aylward I remind Members that we are dealing with amendments Nos. 9, 11, 12 and 18 and I ask that in the interests of moving this Bill forward they stick to the purpose of the amendments.

I too welcome the aims and objectives of this Bill, which is to reduce excessive drinking, in respect of which I accept we have a problem in Ireland. However, I am not happy with the labelling measure, particularly the inclusion of the word "cancer" on labels. A lot of people dread the word "cancer", particularly those who have had it. I am a survivor of cancer. It is a word that instils dread in people. I do not believe we need to go as far as including the word "cancer" on alcohol labels. I would accept a warning to the effect that alcohol damages health but the word "cancer" is too severe. I ask the Minister to reconsider the use of that word as the mere mention of "cancer" causes fear in people, particularly people who have had cancer. One would need a barrel sized label if we were to put on it all of the illnesses caused by excessive drinking. There is such a thing as self-control. Most people know how much alcohol they should consume. What we are doing now is demonising alcohol. One would get the impression from this debate that if one takes a drink one is a bad person. Millions of people around the world enjoy a drink and do not drink excessively. Some people have a drink with a meal, on their way home on a Friday evening or when they go out on a Sunday night. I come from rural Ireland. Most people in rural Ireland enjoy a pint or two of Guinness and a chat in the pub on a Saturday night. If this provision is passed the labels on alcohol will state that drink causes cancer. This is not necessary.

The question as to why are we doing this has been asked already. Even if it is passed here, it could be refuted in Europe. If that happens it could be three years before it comes into force. Ireland is becoming a nanny state and a dictatorship. We are deciding how people are to live their lives, what they can do and what they cannot do. This provision will take the pleasure out of drinking alcohol if done in the right quantity. Alcoholics and excessive drinkers will not take any notice of the labels on bottles. This measure will not help address the issue of excessive drinking. I ask the Minister to pull back from using the word "cancer" and to include only the phrase that drink can cause damage to one's health.

I am also concerned about the proposed signage in pubs. We are hypocritical in Ireland in that we will be serving alcohol here with a label saying it causes cancer while only half an hour away and across the Irish Sea people will be able to get the same drink with no such warning on it. This is hypocritical. It is also uncompetitive in that Irish companies will have to bear this cost. There is no labelling of this sort in any other place in the world. There is a need for commonsense in this regard. All over the world, people will be able to buy a bottle of Jameson, Paddy or brands made in Ireland and not have this labelling on it but when they come to Ireland it will be on every bottle of alcohol they see. We are becoming a nanny state. We are dictating to people how to live their lives, what they can and cannot do. That is not our role.

I accept the we need to tackle excessive drinking but this is not the way to go about it. There are micro-breweries in many parts of Ireland. There are two start-up distilleries in Carlow and Kilkenny. In bringing in this excessive law, we are putting them at a disadvantage. I ask the Minister to step back from this, to drop the word "cancer" and to include only the phrase that drink causes damage to health.

I am concerned about the damage this will do to the tourism and hospitality sectors, micro-breweries and breweries. I am proud to say that Kerry is home to some of Ireland's most reputable distilleries and craft breweries. Over the past six years, the Dingle Distillery has built up a reputation of producing some of Ireland's finest whiskey, vodka and gin. It has a world class visitor centre which attracts tourists from all over the world and makes a significant contribution to tourism in the town. Kerry also has some small but thriving craft breweries.

I ask the Deputy to stick to the purpose of the amendment, which is labelling on alcohol and not labelling of Kerry.

It is going to cost companies if they have to put this labelling on their products while imported products from Scotland and so on will not have it. Do people understand what I am saying?

There are 6,450 people employed in the drinks and hospitality trade in County Kerry, which represents 10.5% of the total number of people employed. No other county in Ireland has a higher percentage of people employed in the drinks and hospitality sector. The drinks industry is the lifeblood of many communities. Elected representatives must do everything they can to protect those jobs and that is what we are attempting to do and will continue to try to do. We are elected to make sure the Government is aware that what it is doing is wrong. There is no necessity in the world for this measure.

We all want to tackle the problem of harmful and underage drinking, which was the purpose of the Bill when introduced a number of years ago but it has now deviated from that objective in terms of the labelling provisions and what is proposed for supermarkets and so on. No other country in the world has mandatory cancer warnings on alcohol products. This measure applies a stigma to products made in Ireland and damages our reputation as a country that produces recognised quality products of international standing. The reputational damage to this category could be huge in Ireland and in export markets, undoing all the hard work of recent years. Several foods such as red meat, sausages, bacon and ham have been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. If Ireland requires the inclusion of cancer warnings on alcohol it is likely that similar requirements will be introduced for foods, which is of serious concern to Irish food processors. It is about everything in moderation. Alcohol in moderation does no harm to anybody. Will this measure stop people who drink excessively? It will not. It is a gimmick on the part of the Minister for Health and the Government to make people think they are doing something about excessive drinking. This measure will not stop underage or excessive drinking, which is what we started out to do, but we have now moved away from that.

People have drunk alcohol for years and drinking plays an important role in sustaining socially supportive friendship networks, improving happiness and combating loneliness and isolation. Maybe people living in or near cities do not know about loneliness and isolation but in rural areas people have little else to do but have a few drinks for company's sake. That is as it ever was. It is ridiculous what the Government is doing because Scotch whisky and whiskey from other parts of the world will not have the cancer warning.

The Deputy is factually wrong.

Why do we have to be the first with these labels? The Minister is saying others will have them. When will that be?

The Minister will get a chance to reply. I ask Deputy Danny Healy-Rae to conclude.

We know that this will place people like the operators of the Dingle distillery at a serious disadvantage because if there is a bottle up on the counter with a cancer label on it and another bottle that does not have a cancer warning on it, which one will the consumer go for? It could be a tourist from whatever part of the world looking at it and we depend on tourism in a big way in County Kerry. I do not know why I am being interrupted-----

The Deputy is on the kitchen table.

I do not know why I am being interrupted.

I ask Deputy Danny Healy-Rae to continue.

I am trying to help him out.

We started out with good intentions to prevent underage drinking and we were hoping that the minimum unit pricing would have a positive effect on that but we have gone totally off the wall with this. It is ridiculous. That is not to say that there are not issues to be addressed but this is not the way to do it. There are strict codes in place on how alcohol is advertised and marketed. EUROSTAT, in its 2017 report, identified that the cost of alcohol in Ireland is the highest in the European Union based on consumer price levels. The Government is going away from the point with this cancer label and it will affect our tourism economy because people dread cancer. We go to so many funerals and meet so many people who have lost family members-----

-----because of cancer which is caused by so many different things.

I was interrupted in the middle of it-----

I accept that and that is why I gave the Deputy some latitude.

-----even by the Acting Chairman and that is alright too. The Government has gone away from the core of what we set out to do at the start and it has become totally ridiculous by insisting that we will have to have labels on bottles of alcohol, in pubs and in other venues.

I too rise to make my comments on this amendment. I fully understand that cancer has very serious connotations for young and old. There is hardly a family in the country that is not affected by it. National hospice day took place last Thursday and coffee mornings were held up and down the country. The message certainly needs to go out to people of all ages about all harmful products. I lost two brothers, two first cousins and many more people to cancer.

While the Bill may be well intentioned, including this amendment, it has crossed the line of common sense and understanding. We are trying to deal with the detrimental effect of ill health but no impact analysis was carried out on the adverse effect this legislation might have on the economy, especially in rural areas but also in urban areas. I regularly visit Bray in the Minister's county where I go to a few hostelries the Minister frequents himself and I see a host of craft beers from Wicklow, including the town of Bray. Thankfully, every county now has craft beers. We are trying to encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship and encourage people to have the courage to become self-employed and to get local enterprise offices, LEOs, and county enterprise boards to support these businesses to create employment in rural towns and villages and in the countryside. We must continue to do that. Another speaker I heard earlier referred to Ministers turning up to launch new breweries. Maybe the Minister launched one of the craft breweries in Bray or Wicklow.

The Deputy should stay on the issue of labelling.

I am discussing labelling.

I am trying to keep him focused.

I am focused. Labelling will have a terrible impact. We fought very hard in the programme for Government for rural-proofing of legislation and we are passing legislation here that is not in any way rural-proofed but is anti-rural and also totally anti-work. I am supporting the man or woman who earns a day's pay. I hear the Taoiseach saying he wants to support people who get up early in the morning. These people get up very early. They put their hands in their pockets to invest in the site, restore old buildings and breweries and get some funding. It is not easy to get funding and planning permission and get through the strict regime that applies to the selling of alcohol and craft beers. It is right that this has to be regulated. These people sometimes go without wages to try to get a company off the ground. The number of microbreweries has mushroomed. I mentioned earlier Deputy Kelly's Bill last year to allow craft breweries to sell their products on site. We all supported that but legislation but this Bill is the direct opposite of that. It proposes placing labels on bottles and in premises and installing barriers at the entrance to off-licence areas of shops. I am not in favour of shops having too much access when it comes to alcohol.

We are not tackling the issues we should tackle. For probably seven or eight budgets now I have made submissions seeking the introduction of a capping charge. Vintners and others want such a charge. For example, two dozen cans or bottles are being sold for €18. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said that according to international research we are the most expensive country in Europe to buy alcohol over the counter in the pub, yet we will not support these pubs. Why do we refuse in budget after budget to try to increase the price of alcohol sold in off-licences and shops, which is readily available to young people because unscrupulous older people buy it for them. There are also younger people working in shops who are unable to resist the pressure to sell it to their peers. I told the Minister that a very important function with a long history in a town in my county had to be cancelled because of what happened one Sunday night and the amount of drink people walked out of the supermarkets with.

The Deputy should speak on the labelling issue.

I am talking about labelling and balance. All of the labels in the world could have been on the alcohol that night but it was sold all the same. It could have been labelled everywhere and labels wrapped around it but it would be sold. We are going after the wrong area and this proposal will make a serious and negative impact on employment, production, businesses and people who want to be entrepreneurs and workers and get the job done. We are not focusing on the major problem of young people drinking. They are drinking on the streets and in fields and causing public order offences. There is teenage drinking with taxis collecting alcohol and dropping at houses for teenagers to drink.

We have gone down this road in a hurry to be the best boys in Europe. I do not know what kudos we are trying to get but we are doing this without a proper analysis of the damage and destruction that this is doing and the benefits that we will get from it. Tourists will come here and laugh at us. I do not believe this measure will see the light of day if someone takes a challenge to our friends in the EU because it makes no sense. That is a discussion for another day, however.

I am speaking on behalf of the ordinary daoine na hÉireann, the people involved in microbrewery businesses and those who want to sell alcohol over the counter in licensed premises. Licences are placed behind the bar and can be inspected by the Garda or anybody else at any time. There are also health and safety and food inspections.

We are crippling ordinary businesses. I accept we are doing so with good intentions. I am not questioning the bona fides but it is a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a chestnut. It will have negative repercussions on microbreweries, pubs and other outlets. Pubs are an endangered species now. We give different status to different groups. We will have to give some kind of an ethnic status to the publicans because they are disappearing like snow off a ditch and we are passing legislation to close them down. They always pay wages, rates and VAT and give employment. Above all, they provide a place in many areas for functions to take place, whether after a funeral, engagement party or a match. In many areas there are no function rooms apart from in the pub. Publicans in many areas kept their lounges insured and paid rates on them to support the community. Níl neart go cur le chéile. This is not supporting the community and it will not have the desired effect either.

I recognise there are strongly held views on this issue around the House and the country. Those who are making their views known are representing what they believe to be the best interests of their constituencies. Fianna Fáil's position is that we are supporting the inclusion in primary legislation of cancer labelling. Why are we taking that position given there are strongly held views in the Chamber? We have heard from Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. There are a number of questions we have to ask. Is there a material risk of cancer associated with alcohol consumption or is it a marginal risk? Are we talking about burnt toast or are we beginning to move into the realm of cigarettes? Is it a material risk? If it is a material risk, is it a known material risk? How many people know? If it is materially carcinogenic, do people know it is? I do not mind saying in the Chamber that I did not know it was. When I first heard about this amendment I thought it was nanny statism at work. Are they going to start putting labels on rashers and telling me if I burn my toast I am eating it at my own risk?

I did some research and spoke to clinicians. The figures I got back shook me. They showed that 500 people die every year in this country from alcohol-related cancer. That is about three times the number of people who die in this country every year on the roads, which is a number of tragic fatalities that gets a huge amount of investment and warnings and rightly so. Three times more people die from alcohol-related cancers.

Then there is the question of whether this only applies to excessive drinkers and everybody else should be absolutely fine? The data I was presented with indicate it is not fine for everybody else. There are many data and many Members have them. I will mention the increased risk of breast cancer or association with breast cancer. On average, for every 10 g of alcohol consumed per day a woman's risk of breast cancer increases by 7%. What does that mean? It turns out that the average daily consumption of alcohol is 30 g. The average consumption of alcohol in this country would therefore be associated with a 21% increase in the risk of breast cancer. That is a material risk and it applies at average consumption levels. The idea that we are in the world of rashers and burnt toast is not true. The idea that a person has to be drinking ten pints a day for it to be associated with a risk of cancer is not true. It is a material risk and that risk begins at low levels of alcohol consumption. That answers the first question.

Let us now discuss the second question. Do people know that alcohol is carcinogenic? I will move from data to anecdote, which always makes me a little bit nervous but I will do it anyway. I asked friends about this when I got the data. I asked them if they knew alcohol was carcinogenic. The answer pretty much across the board was "No." I spoke to one friend who had a family association with cancer and she became upset when I gave her the facts. One's genetic disposition is a factor and there are significant variables and complexity involved but if one is drinking the average amount, the data indicate that one will increase the risk of getting breast cancer by more than 20%. She got very angry. The idea that we would know this and not tell people in order that they can make an informed decision is not one I agree with. Maybe I just know many people who do not know much about healthcare. There was a tweet yesterday from a nurse called Laura. It struck me because it summed up the question of whether people know. I thought perhaps non-clinicians did not know but doctors and nurses knew. Laura said:

32 students attended my nurse triage clinic today & were asked about their usual #alcohol intake. Only 1/32 [nurses] were aware that alcohol is a carcinogen!

The answer to the second question about whether it is widely known that alcohol is associated with cancer would appear to be "No, it is not widely known." Is it a material risk? Yes, it is. Does the public know about it? No, it does not. Do many clinicians know about it? I am going on one tweet but if we are to accept it, they do not know. I apologise to all the clinicians who do know.

The position we are taking is to support the inclusion of cancer in the primary legislation. There are legitimate counter-arguments, including around hierarchies of diseases. There were concerns about the EU's potential response and they, too, are legitimate. My view is that the EU should accept this. It is our business, our country and our public health. If we, as the democratically elected Parliament, believe it is in the public interest to do this, the EU should respect that. If it does not and we find ourselves in some position where we are boxed in legally, the Minister can bring forward a short miscellaneous Bill. Let us not forget there is probably a four-year lead-in before this labelling will appear, which means there is ample time for a miscellaneous Bill, if necessary. The risk to the progress of this is eminently within the powers of the Minister to deal with. For that reason, we believe the cancer warning needs to be in the primary legislation.

I commend the Minister on what he did over the weekend. When I read the headline in The Irish Times or one of the other newspapers at the weekend, I thought the strength of the alcohol industry had the country again. I commend the Minister on holding true on this. It is a very important public health measure that has taken a significant amount of time. It is important that the Minister follows it through to the end. There are lots of spurious claims being made here and elsewhere to undermine and chip away at a very important Bill.

People mentioned attendance at funerals and hospices. One would attend them less frequently or perhaps the person whose funeral one attended would not have passed away so early if people had known about this issue. What we have again is everyone accepting the legislation and saying it makes a difference, they accept it, they are not trying to block it and they would never listen to the industry about this. They saying: "It is well-intentioned but", "It is harmful but" or "It is great but". There is a caveat attached to everything positive by the people trying to undermine this legislation. It is a disgrace in this House and elsewhere how the drinks industry has tried to influence Deputies to undermine facts.

We have heard again about common sense. Let us base public health on evidence and science, which is common sense when it comes to public health policy. The Minister is to be commended on driving this through and holding it to the threshold of good public health policy. I know Senator Black is here also. We did not have cancer labelling in primary legislation but it was put in, and taking it out would have been a contradiction to good public health. It would have undermined the science and the facts, which are what we need to hold true to.

People have been making spurious claims. One Deputy said that the legislation does not try to question the cancer claim, and I commend the Chair on that. The reality is that alcohol causes cancer of the mouth, the pharynx, the larynx, the oesophagus, the breast, the liver, the pancreas, the bowel and colorectal cancer. Most people know somebody affected by these issues. A recent New York Times article revealed that some of the national institutes of health receive much funding from the alcohol industry, trying to shape their studies in order that moderate drinking will be made to appear safe, to try to normalise it and inject that doubt into people's minds. We need to send out a strong signal as a Parliament, and I am glad there is collective support on this. Alcohol causes cancer, and we would be negligent not to tell people that. Some people have mentioned toast, red meat and smoked salmon. I urge the House to check the British Medical Journal, where there are 13,861 entries for alcohol and cancer. In The Lancet, to which most people refer when it comes to science and evidence-based research, there are 25,048 references to alcohol and cancer. They are the facts and that is the evidence.

One person in the Chamber said that alcohol and loneliness are somehow inextricably and positively linked. My colleague, Senator Swanick, did a good study on loneliness, and one will find the word "alcohol" is not mentioned in it as a positive impact for people living in rural Ireland in isolation with problems. This is an attempt to try to create policy solutions to help rural Ireland, rather than going back to alcohol, which is the thing Deputy Danny Healy-Rae says solves every problem. He is undermining his constituents. He should be telling them the science and the facts-----

(Interruptions).

The Deputy made an unfortunate remark when he said that alcohol can help loneliness, which is not something this Chamber should put on any alcohol product. We should be telling the public the facts.

I remind Deputies to address their remarks through the Chair in order to prevent these altercations.

I will. I will not try to hold up this debate. I was not going to speak and I am glad my colleague, Deputy Donnelly, has provided a strong support for this. I was saddened at the weekend because I had thought we were going to remove this measure from the Bill. We should be a leader in Europe when it comes to public health and alcohol. My party leader, Deputy Martin, took on the smoking and tobacco industry many years ago, and the same spurious claims were made by that industry as are being made now. Ireland became a leader of change in public healthcare around warnings, labels and so on, and it is important we do the same with alcohol.

People will still take a drink and tourists will still come here and have a drink. To say there will be an Armageddon effect is misleading people again. There will still be jobs and growth in this industry, but we need to present people with the facts. I would prefer fewer nurses, doctors and GPs to be dealing with the acute issues of alcohol in our primary community care and hospital system, rather than reverting to the people who are just in one's ear, lobbying about something that relates to their pocket rather than public health.

I commend the Minister and the various parties for pushing this and keeping it at the threshold where it is. It is important that we send out that message from this Chamber.

I was not going to speak either because my colleague, Deputy O'Reilly, has outlined all the arguments in favour of the Bill, as the two previous speakers have eloquently done also. I wish to comment on some of the claims which were made. It is not factually true to suggest there would be two bottles on a shelf, one with a label warning of the associated risks of alcohol and cancer, and another next to it with no label. We need to deal with facts here, and that will not be the case. It does not matter where that bottle came from, be it Scotland, America or anywhere. It will have a label. Every bottle sold on a shelf will have the same label, regardless of whether it was brewed in Dingle or in Edinburgh. That is a fact.

What is also a fact is the proven casual link between alcohol and certain types of cancer, which is based on research done by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. That is a fact and one cannot dispute it. I heard another Deputy tonight say that putting these labels on bottles will kill rural Ireland. That is an opinion and not a fact. It is a fact, however, that there were 500 cancer-related deaths last year due to alcohol. That is a fact and not an opinion.

Deputy Chambers put it well when he said that this is not about telling people they should not drink or they cannot drink. It is about giving them information in order that they can make informed decisions. I do not drink or touch alcohol, but if I did I would like to have the information before I decided whether I wanted a drink. Similarly, with cigarettes, which I smoke, there are warnings on the packets that I buy that inform me of the dangers. I know what the dangers are and I make a choice based on the information given to me, and I am grateful for that because it is my decision and it is based on facts.

I do not know what the big argument is against this proposal. One Deputy asked why we are the first in the world to do this. Why not? Why should we not be the first? We are talking about tourists coming here who will get the impression that if they drink Irish whiskey they might get cancer but if they drink Scottish whisky they will not get cancer. It is ridiculous. When this legislation passes, if this amendment stays as it is in order that the cancer label remains within the primary legislation, it would be a good day, not only for this House and this country but for everyone because we will inform not only our own citizens but also the thousands of tourists who will visit. We are educating people in this country but also further afield, which is something we should be proud of. Rather than asking why we will be the first, I ask why not? I am proud that we will be the first. Many decisions made in this Chamber through the years have not benefitted citizens and have had untold effects on their physical and mental health, but this is one which will not do that. Let us get on with it and pass the Bill. People can have their opinions and they will continue to have their opinions after this legislation is passed, but people will also have facts and they will be informed. Let us cut the nonsense and get on with it.

I thank the Minister for taking the debate. We are all aware of excessive alcohol intake and its effect on society and people, on their physical and mental health, as well as the social effects that alcohol has. We are all aware of people who developed cirrhosis of the liver, and we think that is the only physical illness that alcohol will cause in people. People are not aware, however, that alcohol causes cancer. The most important part of this legislation is to educate people that cancer is a real risk if they drink alcohol. Less is best. We will not eliminate the consumption of alcohol but we must let people know that if they drink alcohol to excess they have a higher risk of developing cancer. The purpose is not to stop people drinking; we will obviously never do that.

We do, however, want people to drink sensibly and to drink within the recommended limits. For a male, the recommended limit is for 17 units of alcohol a week and, for a female, it is 11 units per week. A pint is two units, a glass of wine is one unit and a bottle of wine is eight units. We can work out ourselves how many units we drink in a week. If we stay within those limits, the likelihood of developing cancer is reduced by 50%. The risk of cancer will never be eliminated and we are never going to eliminate the consumption of alcohol. We are trying in this Bill to educate people so they are aware that if they drink sensibly the risk of cancer will be reduced. It will never be eliminated and that is not the purpose of the Bill. It is to try to reduce the toll that alcohol takes in the form of cancer.

There are 900 cancer related illnesses diagnosed every year, starting from the mouth, the throat, the oesophagus, the bowel, the liver and also including breast cancer. Several Members have outlined them. Of those 900 illnesses diagnosed, 500 will die every year. This Bill has been in the Dáil or the Oireachtas for more than 1,000 days. If we work out the mathematics, that is 2,700 people who have developed an alcohol related cancer and 1,500 who have died from an alcohol related cancer since this Bill was introduced into the Dáil. Every day this Bill is delayed is taking a toll on someone's life. Cancer is a risk. We all know that. That risk cannot be eliminated, but we have to educate people. It would be remiss of us if we put labels on alcohol that had the calorific content and a bland health warning but that did not mention cancer. It might give a touch of cancer but do not mention cancer. There are small diagrammatic pregnancy warnings on alcohol, but nevertheless it is important that people are aware of the damage that alcohol can cause if it is consumed during pregnancy. There is a significant entity called foetal alcohol syndrome where the baby of a person who drinks excessively during pregnancy can be affected developmentally because of the alcohol that mother has consumed.

There is no sense in putting warnings on our bottles if we exclude cancer. There would be a case to be taken against the alcohol industry if it was known, as the World Health Organization has said, that alcohol is a grade 1 carcinogenic and that warning was not put on its products. The alcohol industry is leaving itself open to litigation if it did that. We must not underestimate the power of the alcohol industry. There has been intense lobbying over recent months. We have all experienced it. It is, unfortunately, the power of that lobby that has led to the length of this debate. The fact that Ireland will be unique in the world in introducing this warning on labels is to be commended, as Deputy-----

It was Deputy Jonathan O'Brien.

I am sorry, excuse me. As Deputy Jonathan O'Brien mentioned, just because no other country has done it is no reason we should not do it. The facts and scientific evidence are there. No one can argue against the scientific evidence. The speaker who challenged the scientific evidence is gone. The scientific evidence is that alcohol is a risk factor for cancer. In the same way as the reduction in our road traffic deaths was not the result of one particular initiative but of many, reducing our incidence of cancer will be multifaceted. As we identify carcinogens and come across them, it is very important that we are aware of them and that we make the public aware of them. The public has a choice then to drink excessively or not. It is, however, very important that labelling on products makes the public aware that cancer is a risk of drinking excessively.

I am going to make a brief contribution to this debate. I felt in conscience the more I listened to the debate that I did need to say something. I listened to some of the amendments proposed by Deputy O'Reilly and to many of the speakers in this Chamber, but for me what made up my mind not to oppose this Bill were the opinions of the two medical people in the Chamber. Neither I nor any other Deputy has any right to question - and I mean this - people who have the medical experience, who deal with patients and who know the danger of excessive drinking. For me, Deputy Harty and Deputy Chambers were the two people in particular who were the reason I said to myself quite clearly that I cannot oppose this Bill, even though I have some minor reservations about it.

I also acknowledge that the Minister has medical experts. This debate, however, has been somewhat clouded because one could be forgiven for thinking that someone was going to be policing the door of every public house and that it would not be possible to get into some of them. That is not what we are about. We are trying to control the abuse of alcohol in this State and, regardless of whether we like it, we have a major problem. If we are honest, we have all had times in our clinics where families have pleaded and begged for their relatives badly affected by alcohol. I do not drink but I go into public houses and I mix with people who have a drink. I have no difficulty with moderate drinking but this society has to accept that alcohol is a major issue.

I am inclined to agree with Deputy Jonathan O'Brien. Why not be the first in the world to do this? Remember when Deputy Micheál Martin took on the smoking lobby and the way he was hounded and abused? If we went out now and did a survey today, I would say 98% of people, even those who still smoke, would say that was the right decision. We were the first in the world to do it and now many other nations have followed us. I have some sympathy for some of the breweries and the family businesses. They have concerns about part of the labelling and part of the advertising. I have discussed it with Deputy Donnelly and he has clarified some of that for me. In general, I welcome the Bill and support it, allowing for the fact that I do see that some of the family breweries probably do have some worries in respect of advertising. I have two questions that the Minister might answer. If this Bill goes through, how long will it be before the labels appear on the bottles? Second, will Europe be forcing us to implement this?

I welcome the discussion that we have had on amendments Nos. 9, 11, 12 and 18, which have been discussed together. I want to try to respond to some of the points raised. That includes people calling for me to find common sense, not to go too far, or to listen to their common-sense view. It is very important as Minister of Health to listen to health experts. It is very important when bringing forward public health legislation to listen to those who know a bit about public health. I am very confident bringing forward this Bill. It has cross-party support and it was a Bill that appeared in almost every party's manifesto in the previous general election. Here we are two years on still trying to pass it through this Oireachtas.

The people and bodies that I have listened to about this, as well as the Chief Medical Officer and the officials in my Department, include members of the Alcohol Health Alliance-Alcohol Action Ireland, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, the Health Service Executive, the Irish Heart Foundation, the National Youth Council of Ireland, the Irish Cancer Society, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Children's Rights Alliance, the National Rehabilitation Hospital, the Irish Road Victims Association, the No Name Club, the Marie Keating Foundation, Purple House Cancer Support, the Irish College of General Practitioners, Aware, the Samaritans, the Institute of Public Health, the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, the RISE Foundation, the Alcohol Forum, the Cork Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force, the Family Support Network, the Irish College of Ophthalmologists, the Union of Students of Ireland, the National Suicide Research Foundation, the National Women's Council of Ireland, the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland, Mental Health Reform, the Irish Medical Organisation, Social Justice Ireland, the Men's Health Forum, the Irish Student Health Association, the Irish Dental Association, AMEN Support Services, Dual Diagnosis Ireland, A Lust for Life, React, Pavee Point, Barnardos, the Environmental Health Association of Ireland, the South Western Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force, the Galway Healthy Cities Project, Community Awareness of Drugs, Ballymun Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Finglas-Cabra Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Tallaght Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Drugs.ie, the Dental Health Foundation, the One Step Clinic, Lifewise, Dr. Siobhan Jennings, Dr. Suzanne Cotter, Dr. Hugh Gallagher, Professor Joe Barry, Professor Frank Murray, Dr. Bobby Smith, former Senator Jillian van Turnhout, Professor John Crown and Kathleen Moore-Watt, the law lecturer in Waterford Institute of Technology-----

-----and Members of the Oireachtas on a cross-party basis. This is legislation that those working on the front line who see the impact of alcohol want us are begging us to implement. The Bill has been in the offing for over 1,000 days, and we have a duty to get on with it.

I am shocked by some of the comments I have heard. People have made statements of fact to the effect that there is no established link between cancer and alcohol. That is a mistruth. That is as far as I can go in this House. It is not true in any way and the World Health Organization states it is not true. This year some 900 people in this country will develop alcohol-related cancers and 500 of them will die. Between 2001 and 2010, 2,823 men in rural and urban areas, perhaps some of whose funerals and wakes Deputies attended, died of alcohol-related cancers. Some 1,700 women died of alcohol-related cancers. Is it too much to say we should stick a small label on a bottle-----

They are also dying because of the failure of the Minister to provide a proper health service.

A label could tell citizens about it.

The Minister should not point his finger at me.

That is what this legislation is about. Some 2,823 men and 1,700 women died of alcohol-related cancers and we are saying it might be a good idea to stick a label on a bottle to let people know.

The Deputy is correct to say that, on its own, this measure will not fix the problem. There must be a multi-facetted approach to address the issue and this is a part of the solution. It has always been the intention of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 to have labels on bottles. That has never changed. It was also the intention when my friend and colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, was guiding the Bill through the Seanad. The debate has been about whether it is better to provide for it in primary legislation or leave it to the Minister of the day to provide for it via regulations. We have never disagreed - contrary to what I have read - on whether there should be a cancer warning. The disagreement has been about the mechanism we should use. A motion was passed unanimously in the Seanad in November last year which stated it should be done via primary legislation. In recent days I have engaged with stakeholders to establish the best way to do this. I have decided that we should lead in this area and that it should be done via primary legislation which should be sent to the European Commission and we will see what it states. If Deputy Micheál Martin had adopted the approach advocated by some in this House, we would not have had a smoking ban, for which I give him credit. Many of the arguments being hurled at me are the same arguments that were hurled at Deputy Micheál Martin when he introduced the smoking ban. Public health legislation is never easy to introduce. It causes discomfort and us to change the way we do things.

I have shared the thought with members of the Opposition that there is a risk in the approach we are taking. We must share that risk and take it with our eyes wide open. The European Commission did not issue a negative opinion on the issue of cancer labelling when it was notified, but it made ot very clear that a final decision could not be reached until the relevant regulations had been notified and scrutinised. People have asked when labelling will commence. The legislation is very clear in stating it will not happen until after three years have elapsed once the Commission has approved the label. As people have said to me this week, if the Commission comes back with a negative opinion, we will have a period in which to work out how to deal with it. However, that is not a reason not to do it.

I propose that we oppose the amendments which try to remove the spotlight that, collectively, we wish to shine on the fact that there is a causal link between alcohol and cancer and that citizens are dying as a result of it.

Amendment put.

Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise?

Deputies Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath and Carol Nolan rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen I declare the amendment lost. In accordance with Standing Order 72 the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 14, line 13, after “form” to insert “, in both the English and Irish language”.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 14, to delete lines 18 and 19.

Amendment put.

Deputies

Vótáil.

Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise.

Deputies Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath and Carol Nolan rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen I declare the amendment lost. In accordance with Standing Order 72 the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 14, to delete lines 28 and 29.

Amendment put.

Deputies

Vótáil.

Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise.

Deputies Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath and Carol Nolan rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen I declare the amendment lost. In accordance with Standing Order 72 the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 14, line 35, after "displayed" to insert ", in both the English and Irish language,".

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 15, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:

"(d) data from health services relating to alcohol related presentations at health facilities,".

Amendment put.

Deputies

Vótáil.

Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise?

Deputies Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath and Carol Nolan rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen I declare the question is carried. In accordance with Standing Order 72 the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 16, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:

“(17) (a) This section shall not apply to the sale of alcohol products in a tax-free shop to travellers departing the State.

(b) “Tax-free shop” means a tax-free shop within the meaning of Article 14 of Council Directive 2008/118/EC of 16 December 2008 concerning the general arrangements for excise duty and repealing Directive 92/12/EEC.

(c) A tax-free shop shall, in the prescribed manner, inside the premises, display a notice or notices in the prescribed form, which shall include in the prescribed form, in both the English and Irish language —

(i) a warning that is intended to inform the public of the danger of alcohol consumption,

(ii) a warning that is intended to inform the public of the danger of alcohol consumption when pregnant,

(iii) a warning that is intended to inform the public of the direct link between alcohol and fatal cancers,

(iv) details of a website, to be established and maintained by the Executive, providing public health information in relation to alcohol consumption, and

(v) confirmation that a document specifying the matters set out in paragraph (d) is available for inspection on request at the premises concerned.

(d) The document referred to in paragraph (c)(v) shall specify the following:

(i) the quantity in grams of alcohol of each quantity, measure or unit of every alcohol product that is for sale in the licensed premises concerned, and

(ii) the energy value expressed in kilojoules and kilocalories of each quantity, measure or unit of every alcohol product that is for sale in the licensed premises concerned.”.

The purpose of the amendment is to provide the same regulations on the airside of airports as are seen in pubs. It is a full transfer of the regulations we will see in pubs to the airside of shops in airports.

We cannot hear the Deputy.

To respond to Deputy Donnelly, I support the amendment.

On a point of order, we did not hear a word of what was said.

It was worth listening to. Will the Deputy repeat his words?

The purpose of the amendment is to transpose the requirements seen in pubs around signage and so forth to airside travel. This is essentially what we know as "duty free" in airports. It would remove the requirement for labelling for the airside products. We want to achieve a balance that meets all the public health requirements. We do this by ensuring all the requirements for pubs are met and we want to ensure we have a level playing field for the producers in foreign markets. We meet both requirements with the proposed change.

This is a reasonable amendment from Deputy Donnelly. It ensures that consumers in duty free shops will have access to the relevant health warnings and information, so I am satisfied this respects the intention of the labelling provision. I am happy to accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 17, line 5, to delete "or" where it secondly occurs.

I am one of a number of Deputies who have put this forward. I make no bones about saying I am from the constituency of Cork East and Irish Distillers has a big operation there through the Midleton Distillery and big Irish brands are present, including Jameson. I have a little concern and I hope the Minister can allay those issues with signage.

The whiskey tourism offering is quite strong currently. There are up to 130,000 visitors coming to Midleton annually and they include tourists and other responsible persons who purchase products. There is a massive multiplier effect for the local economy as they spend time in the Cork and south-west region. Forgive me if I am misinterpreting the legislation but I worry that if we are to put in place measures that would prevent signage to distilleries such as that in Midleton, it would serve as an impediment to those visitors. Irish Distillers is a big employer, employing 600 people across four sites. As I said, whiskey tourism is a growing offering as part of the greater tourism spend. I add my voice to the concerns about signage, particularly with respect to visitor centres, which is a key element of the argument.

While I have the floor, I should indicate that I put down an amendment that was withdrawn on Committee Stage relating to cancer labelling. The amendment came about not because I am against labelling per se but rather because I had reservations about cancer labelling on its own.

I wanted to look at the labelling issue in the round because if one thinks of diabetes, cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, depression, seizures and gout, it is obvious that abuse of alcohol has an impact in the context of a range of illnesses. It was for this reason that I tabled the amendment. I hope, however, if we are to take an approach to labelling, that we would look at all of the illnesses and all of the diseases in the round and that we would not be so prescriptive in the context of cancer. That is merely my worry. I am not against labelling per se. If the Minister could provide an answer in that regard at some stage I would be grateful. I do not wish to delay the passage of this legislation any further.

I will also be brief. There is a concern that some of these breweries - they are where they are, and one cannot just pick them up and shift them to somewhere else - would be beside a park or areas where such facilities will now be forbidden. This is where they are located. Perhaps one facility might avoid the rules relating to advertising and signage while another might be situated next to a place where one cannot have any such facility. I wonder can the Minister make some sort of a modification to help those which, because of where they are built, and they are there for a good few years, cannot just up sticks and go. Can something be done on that?

I am worried about visitor centres and the adverse effect what is proposed might have on visitors when they see these signs as they enter various places. I am concerned for small breweries, such as Killarney brewery and the Dingle Brewery Company, that it will affect them adversely or reverse the progress that has been made and the jobs that they have provided. If one goes back six years to when the Dingle Brewery Company started up, there were not many jobs in Dingle at that time. The people there are glad of the employment that the brewery provides all year round. They are also glad that it has become a tourist attraction. What is proposed in the Bill will have an adverse effect on those people and on jobs in Dingle. Likewise, any time I pass the Killarney brewery on the Muckross Road there seems to be a crowd being taken on a tour of the place. It is proper that I record my concern, on behalf of the people who have developed those businesses and their employees.

There is no need for this. It will have no beneficial effect for the youngsters. When this Bill was being drawn up first, it was to help prevent the abuse of alcohol by youngsters and binge drinking. I cannot see what is the connection between binge drinking and tourists coming like that to our country who for one hour may visit these places. It is ridiculous. What the Government is doing is preposterous. These visitors may even only stay for a half an hour. I do not know how this is to be of any benefit in stopping underage drinking or excessive drinking. I do not see that it serves any purpose or that it will have any real effect.

It is important that signage and advertisements directing people to visitor centres and places that have built up trade would continue to be allowed in the future regardless of whatever is passed by the Dáil. If the amendments will help or assist that, they are obviously important. We cannot have a situation of the goalposts being moved in the middle of the game. For those who applied for planning permission for visitor centres, who built up businesses and who perhaps have breweries with the relevant directional signage outside, anything that is passed by the Dáil should not impede, restrict or take away from the right of those people to advertise, direct or show individuals where their operations are located. As Deputy Fitzmaurice stated, people have had to develop these businesses wherever they could, wherever they owned the property and in whatever locations were available to them. We cannot go moving the goalposts now. If they have their permission and their operations are in place, we want them to stay there. We want them to be able to attract the visitors to their places and to continue to give employment. To do anything else would mean shutting them down and that would obviously be a retrograde step.

We have to be mindful that the power of legislation is all-consuming and that is why we have to be so careful about what we are doing here. That is why I have such concerns over what we are doing here. However, that is people's right and entitlement. The Bill will proceed but the Minister can be sure on one point, namely, that where I think it is wrong I will say it is wrong and where I think it is right I will say I think it is right. However, I am very worried about the signage aspect of existing businesses, breweries and visitor centres. There is a massive attraction for tourists and visitors who come here and who want to see how master craftsmen brew beer and distil whiskey, and who want to sample both. This is a niche market that was not there a number of years ago and we have to be so careful that what Deputies do here tonight will not be detrimental to those businesses.

As stated earlier, and I do not want to be repetitive, it is vital that we do not do harm to existing and fledgeling businesses. We must also avoid doing harm to proposed businesses, one of which I will name. In my town of Clonmel, what used to be Bulmers - the drink is still called "Bulmers" - is now owned by C&C and the latter has a huge vacant property in Dowd's Lane. I remember, as a buachaill óg, going to Dowd's Lane with the apples my brothers and sisters and I had been involved in picking. The apples were transported there by a tractor and trailer. Then, in weather such as today's, although a bit later, normally, in October, with the frost and cutting of the apples and the fermenting process, one would get the smell wafting up the town. One would know about it. People would not need signage to find the Bulmers factory because the wonderful smell of apples being crushed to guide them. It was an aroma that people grew up with and loved. It became part of the heritage of An Cluain Meala, the vale of honey. That building, unfortunately, has been in disuse. However, we launched the Applefest - a new festival that we have to commemorate the cider industry in Clonmel - about a month ago and it is opening on Saturday evening, and we succeeded in getting part of that building open to show the public, especially the daoine óga who do not remember it, the big vats that are still there. That will be part of the Applefest, which is a two-day festival for the weekend in Clonmel, trying to extend the tourist season. We have groups there. The Leader company has supported this and so have other groups, and the private sector, such as Con Traas's Apple Farm, which is a wonderful farm that many people know of, and other producers. We have LongWays Cider Company in Carrick-on-Suir as well.

We hope to develop the centre of Clonmel and many other towns. We are seeking more schemes in the budget for the rejuvenation of our rural towns. This is an integral part of it. This building is falling down. We are dealing with tough cookies in C&C. They do not have a great commitment to the heritage of the town. They are about pounds, shillings and pence, or rather euro and dollars. They lost their shirts in America and have lost badly in England, but the Bulmers plant is very profitable in recent years thanks to the workforce which has taken huge cuts and seen great changes to keep it. We have been promised €500,000 from C&C - live, horse, and you'll get grass - to do this tourist trail of the industry's heritage. There may be some employment for people as tour guides. This heritage centre connects to the back of the town hall and down a narrow street. A visitor can go on down to the bottom of the town and then down to the Bulmers plant on the Waterford road.

Countless hours, weeks and months of work have gone into it by enthusiastic people who are interested in history and our heritage. We salute them. It is so important that we do not pass some legislation here that would damage this or stop it in its tracks. We do not have the live crushing of the apples and the scent and aroma which many people loved. We got used to it. We know what stewing apples is like in a kitchen or inside here in the Dáil canteen, but that happened on a massive scale. The aroma would make one's mouth water.

We are getting hungry.

He is getting hungry.

I am saying it was wonderful. Many of us at that time did not have a lot. The young fellows would pick the apples. Hundreds of groves had contracts to supply the apples from as far away as Dungarvan. There are still a few. It is a whole part of our heritage in Tiobraid Árann Theas, in Cluain Meala. I hope that all the Members will come on tours just as Deputy Danny Healy-Rae said that he sees people visiting the distillery in Kerry.

Perhaps the Minister was present at the launch of craft beers in Bray, Wicklow, Roundwood or Greystones. I recall an occasion some two weeks after the general election. It was on a Friday before we were travelling for talks in Athlone about the formation of a Government. The now Tánaiste, then Minister, came and launched Tipperary Whiskey for a good family, one of whom the Minister is trying to get elected for his party in Tipperary, and a Scottish brewer who was connected to the family came and showed his talents. The whiskey certainly tasted well. That is still there and being supported by enterprise and Leader grants. I understand that it is now moving to the renowned Dundrum House hotel. Many Members here may have been at weddings there. That is in a fledgling state. There was the then Minister, now Tánaiste, promoting that, and rightly so.

Are we now to pull the rug from under his feet such that no one can find this place because they cannot advertise it? This is loo-lah stuff. It is kindergarten stuff. It is legislation that is not being examined and certainly not rural proofed. It has not been industry proofed or audited as to the likely negative impact it will have on, first, the volunteering aspect of the people in Clonmel and south Tipperary, second, the entrepreneurial skill of those who would come on board, and third, C&C, which might have given us the money but will not be that interested now that the legislation will have changed and it cannot happen. Bulmers is renowned the world over. The orchards, the big tanks and the lovely films the company has made to advertise it are there to be seen. It has been part of Clonmel's heritage for many generations. It was home grown. It started small and grew to be a huge industry, which was then taken over by the conglomerates, unfortunately, but it is still there, as are the growers. They are depending on it because they give employment to people picking the apples, pruning the trees, fertilising, replanting and so on.

I am asking Members to think about what we are going to pass here tonight. Deputy Donnelly spoke about burning toast or sausages or rashers. Think about the jobs for the people. That is what is more important. The Government is in a confidence and supply arrangement and, if it gets its way, we will not be able to eat an apple or drink a bottle of Cidona or anything else. To have labels on top of all of that is folly. It is ill-advised, ill-thought-out and ill-judged. The idea that there cannot be signage because people would see it and be directed to it is doing the exact opposite of what these volunteers in the local group are trying to do to rejuvenate our towns which have become dilapidated.

I call Deputy Michael Collins to speak on signage.

We are speaking about signage and our amendment. We are trying to protect our distilleries and our visitor centres. It is the most important thing that this amendment would protect it.

There are distilleries in my constituency including one that is being built in Clonakilty and another being developed in Bandon. People are putting hundreds of thousands of their own money into the business. They are finding it very difficult to start their business and get it up and running. Their intention is to promote drinks that may have been in Ireland long ago and to create employment. We should help them to do that, to sell our drinks abroad and to bring in visitors. We should not put additional obstacles before them.

The gentleman who is building a distillery in Clonakilty took me to the higher end of his building. The Minister may correct me on this. He might not be interested, I do not know. He might have his mind made up on these things.

He is not interested in it.

He is not interested, I would say. I know that it is difficult to concentrate for hours. This gentleman with the distillery is located in a high-rise building. He said that if there was a playschool within 200 m, he could not advertise his business. This is someone who is putting hundreds of thousands of euro into this business but cannot advertise if he is within 200 m of a playschool. That will be very damaging for that man's business. There are many more visitor centres. There are 13 distilleries and visitor centres proposed for the coming year.

People across the world look at Ireland and see the good drink products that we produce, and when they come here, they want to visit and sample some of that drink. We should not prohibit them from doing so by pulling down advertisements that would have been visible to people long ago and never caused an issue. We are trying to create a bit of employment in west Cork and in other places with these distilleries and visitor centres and they will find it difficult with all these rules and regulations. What happens if they have a little booklet to promote their business, as one would expect many must? Are they allowed to have a booklet anymore to hand to visitors? Must they have a little tag about cancer on every page? The Minister could clarify that. It seems as though there are so many rules and regulations that people would nearly need a book as thick as a dictionary to see what they can and cannot do in future.

I will keep my discussion on amendments as brief as possible but I would like some answers.

Deputy O'Keeffe wants to make a short contribution.

I spoke earlier but this is an important issue. The Minister for Justice and Equality eventually accepted the Bill moved by Deputy Kelly and the Labour Party to allow visitor centres in microbreweries and distilleries where customers can taste and purchase products. While I was still on Cork County Council, the previous Government had enjoyed great success in launching the Wild Atlantic Way along the west coast, which had people coming to the council looking for signage for the Wild Atlantic Way for the eastern side of Cork city.

The Minister is creating a fierce prohibition on the promotion of these businesses. How many of those who are present in the Chamber know where Ballyduff in west Waterford is?

I do not see many hands rising. Of course Deputy Sherlock knows where it is.

I did not know we were in the classroom.

Deputy O'Keeffe is going around the country to make a point.

Which type of point?

The Government has given tremendous funding to a microdistillery in Ballyduff to help it to get functioning and operating. The village in question has been decimated down through the years by the loss of its Garda barracks, many of its shops and its Glanbia branch. We are investing money in a centre that depends on tourism and on the purchasing ability of tourists who will not be given any indication of how to get to it.

I would like to ask the Minister about other Departments. I spoke earlier in my deliberations about trade delegations that go abroad. The Minister, Deputy Creed, who is responsible for food and beverages in this jurisdiction, regularly goes overseas with trade delegations. These people make deals abroad. When we meet purchasers in other countries, they often want to come back to the country where the product originated to see where the product they are purchasing is made and to go through the process. We will be sending one type of bottle abroad but when these delegations come into this jurisdiction, they will see bottles that are subject to our laws, which will provide that it must be stated that one should not buy drink because it is carcinogenic and bad for one's health. We will probably be saying the same thing outside our jurisdiction. That is a big concern. It is like talking out of two sides of one's mouth.

I think the Minister should be a bit lax on these proposals. The Irish Distillers visitor centre, which is a major tourism attraction in my constituency, has been mentioned already. Over 100,000 people visit the centre each year. We must maintain the advantage of marketing, which is done by signage and advertising. I think the Minister should be a bit more relaxed on this law because it will have a major impact on the growth of this industry.

I thank the Deputies for the contributions. I have heard lots of references to dictionaries, pieces of paper and booklets. I will clarify the matter by holding up a sample label. It is not the size of a dictionary. I want to make it clear what we are talking about tonight. I am holding up the controversial thing that is upsetting people here.

That is a lot on a brochure.

Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 propose to exempt directional signage and advertisements relating to the promotion of visitor centres from the scope of this Bill. I appreciate the genuine questions that have been asked by Deputy Sherlock and others about the factual situation. As there is a great deal of misinformation out there, I want to make it clear that directional signs to visitor centres are unaffected by any of the provisions of this Bill and therefore no exemption is required. I have seen some vested interests putting up directional signs and saying they will not be allowed. That is another mistruth from industry. Directional signs for Tullamore Dew or whatever-----

We are not going to advertise all of the brands in here because that would defeat the purpose of this Bill. I have seen lots of directional signs that show people to go this way or that way to find establishments of this nature. Such signs will be allowed. However, we will not allow an attempt to turn a directional sign into a billboard, an advertisement or a promotion for drink. That is basically it. That will be the distinction in this respect. It will be regulated in the same way.

This legislation is about allowing kids to grow up before we expose them to drink. It will allow children in Ireland to have a childhood. That is what this is about. According to a study conducted by the Health Research Board in 2014, more than a quarter of Irish children and young people between the ages of 13 and 17 say they have been really drunk. The highest rate of liver disease discharges from Irish hospitals was observed among those between the ages of 15 and 34. We have a problem here. We have a problem with drink in this country. It is not a made-up problem. It has not been dreamed up by people. Our doctors are seeing this problem every single day. It is affecting the constituencies of Deputies, who must decide tonight which side of the argument they want to be on. Do they want to stand by the protection of the health and well-being of their constituents? People are dying because of our inability as a country to tackle our awful relationship with alcohol. I do not propose to accept these amendments.

I am very happy with the Minister's explanation and justification. There are a number of names on the amendment before the House. I am happy to withdraw my name from it, or at least not to press the amendment.

I thank the Deputy.

I asked the Minister some questions that he has not answered.

I have responded to the Deputy.

I asked a question about brochures in distilleries.

Would the Minister like to comment on brochures in distilleries?

Will distilleries be allowed to have brochures as they have always done? Will they need to have cancer labels on those brochures? I am sorry for coming back in.

I think the Deputy is being frivolous about the cancer label.

I am not being frivolous.

He is not being frivolous.

Sorry, I am allowed-----

How can the Minister say that?

The Deputies know how this-----

The Minister should be allowed to respond.

He was not able to respond.

The way this democracy works is that the Deputies opposite get to say what they think about me - God knows they hurl it across at me - and I get to say what I think about them. I think Deputy Collins is being frivolous about cancer labels. That is my view.

That does not answer the question I asked.

I have a democratic mandate to say in this Parliament that I think the Deputy is being frivolous. The brochures cannot breach the advertising regulations set out in the legislation. I have responded to Report Stage amendments Nos. 16 and 17. I do not propose to accept them. I have fulfilled my duty to respond.

Deputy Sherlock is withdrawing amendment No. 16.

We are still pursuing it.

Deputy Sherlock is withdrawing his own name from it.

I wish to clarify that I am withdrawing my own name from it. I am satisfied with the explanation the Minister has given me.

Perhaps one of the other Deputies in whose name the amendment was tabled would like to press it.

I will press it.

We are pressing it.

Amendment put.

Deputies

Vótáil.

Will the Deputies claiming a division, please, rise?

Deputies Michael Collins, Michael Fitzmaurice, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Mattie McGrath and Carol Nolan rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen, I declare the amendment lost. In accordance with Standing Order 72, the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Amendment declared lost.
Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.15 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 27 September 2018.