Amendment Nos. 19 and 20 are related and will be taken together.
Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
I move amendment No. 19:
In page 19, line 34, to delete “or”.
Consequent on the Minister's explanation in respect of signage on amendment No. 17, I wish to withdraw my name from amendments Nos. 19 and 20.
These amendments relate to advertising and ensuring that places, be they interpretive centres or microbreweries, can advertise what is going on. This comes back to the question of whether the consumption of alcohol, the sale of alcohol and the promotion of the industry as a whole are bad things. As I said previously, we have to be very careful in this debate about the demonisation of an industry. There is nothing wrong with producing or selling alcohol and nothing wrong with drinking it, if people do it in moderation.
I have continually stated publicly that the best people to look after the sale of alcohol are barmen and women, especially people who have been bred into the industry and worked in it since they were children. They are responsible and diligent. They want to ensure that people have a good, safe and happy time on licensed premises. These people cherish the fact that they possess a licence to sell alcohol.
In what we would call these more modern times, people who have started off microbreweries from very small beginnings and created employment in their places of business are to be commended. They are the types of people we want in communities. They are producing local beer and spirits and branding them locally.
This comes back to the amendments and the reason I am on my feet which relates to signage. When people invest they want to be able to let people know where they are operating. For example, Killarney has a microbrewery which started very small, got a bit bigger and created more employment. It is located on the Muckross Road and it is now like a visitor centre. People can come to have a bite to eat and sample the beer that is brewed locally. It has a local brand and we want to promote that brand. These microbreweries are not just in Killarney, but in other places in Kerry and Cork and around the country. There is nothing wrong with promoting alcohol in moderation.
There is one thing I do not want to see happening here and it seems to be happening a lot. People are sticking their noses up at the idea and saying we should not promote alcohol or have anything to do with it. People drank when there was prohibition. When there was supposed to be no drink, there was never as much alcohol sold and consumed. Over in America they thought prohibition was a good idea and we saw what happened. It became part of organised crime. They could not bring back the properly administered sale of alcohol quickly enough because they realised they made the biggest boo-boo ever in bringing in prohibition. It led to a totally crazy situation where criminals took over.
I neglected to say it the last night and I am sorry. I want to declare, obviously, my brother is a publican with a seven-day licence. I readily admit I am involved in the sale of alcohol. I own an off-licence. I might be accused of saying what I am saying because I have a vested interest. I know the Minister would not say it, but people who are against me might want to say it. However, that is rubbish. I am saying it because I am entitled to say it. I have been elected to represent everybody and that includes people who might be totally against alcohol. I am also here to represent people who want to consume alcohol in a proper, safe and measured fashion. I am here to represent the publicans, the hoteliers and the off-licence holders, first of all in County Kerry, and then the rest of the people throughout the country who are involved in the sale of alcohol.
Throughout my life I have had the pleasure of having great friends who are publicans and hoteliers.
I know first-hand how hard they work. They work seven days a week. I know they are highly responsible people. They never want to see a situation where there is a row in their licensed premises or where someone leaves and has a mishap, be it an accident or a fall, or hurts himself or herself or has anything bad happen to him or her. They feel as responsible as a person who sells a meal and wants people to enjoy that meal and have good food and a good experience. People who sell alcohol are the exact same.
I am very worried at the way this whole debate has taken on a life of its own. I am not 100% blaming the Minister or the Government but I am not praising them either because there seems to be an idea creeping in that, "We are the Government and we are totally against alcohol". If it is totally against alcohol, it is totally against the industry and totally against all these people who create an awful lot of employment and collect an awful lot of tax. While we are talking about publicans and hoteliers, I want to talk about the amount of tax they bring in. They hand it in to Government and the Government then has it to spend as it wishes. They are big tax collectors for the Government. When the Government is criticising them and hitting their industry, it should remember it is criticising people who are working for it from early morning until late at night, because they are glorified tax collectors. That has to be put on the record.
It cannot all be a one-way street. Of course, I am as concerned as anyone else about alcohol being controlled. We do not want young people to consume alcohol and we do not want people to overindulge in alcohol. However, do we want people to go out and enjoy themselves? Of course, we do, and there is nothing in the world wrong with that. There is nothing in the world wrong with people at a wedding having a few drinks and enjoying themselves. There is nothing in the world wrong with people going out on a Saturday night after a hard week of work and having a couple of beers for themselves and meeting their friends. There is nothing wrong with that. Anyone with any bit of common sense will say that the reasonable consumption of alcohol can be a happy experience for people, and everyone enjoys themselves.
I commend the alcohol industry on its responsible nature over many years. When it comes to the issue of signage, I do not want a situation where people will not be allowed to advertise their businesses.
I cannot allow the debate on this amendment to degenerate into a Second Stage. What I will do is call the Minister to explain the implications of the removal of the word "or" in amendment No. 19. We will focus on this amendment and not have Second Stage.
Thank you. The section of the Bill and the amendments we are discussing do not refer to any of the broader issues that have been raised. Section 14 is trying to design an environment that is alcohol free in areas that are frequented by children. It is about making sure we protect children from alcohol advertising. What the Bill is endeavouring to do, on this basis, is ensure the advertising of alcohol products is prohibited within 200 m of the perimeter of school grounds, a crèche or a local authority playground. I want us all to be clear that is what we are debating. It is Report Stage of the legislation and we are debating whether it is appropriate to have a restriction of 200 m near a school, a crèche or a playground. That is what section 14 and the amendments pertain to, and this is in addition to a prohibition on advertising in or on public service vehicles and at public service transport stops or stations. To me, that sounds like a terribly sensible thing to do. Schools, crèches, playgrounds and public transport hubs should not be locations where we advertise alcohol to young children. That is what we are at here.
The Opposition amendments Nos. 19 and 20 propose a number of exemptions to that, a number of attempts to weaken a provision that protects our children in schools, crèches and playgrounds. These amendments propose to exempt advertisements attached to travel retail and to parks or open spaces where there is a licence to sell alcohol in operation. In addition, they propose to exempt directional signage and advertisements which relate to the promotion of a visitor centre. Section 14, as I said, prohibits alcohol advertising from certain locations, including parks, public transport stops and within 200 m of schools, crèches and playgrounds. These are locations where our children and young people congregate and the objective is to ensure they are not exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing every day. It is not about having a glass of wine or a few drinks at a wedding, as referenced by Deputy Michael Healy-Rae. This is about protecting children and, in particular, areas where children gather. On other issues, perhaps Members could try to amend other parts of the Bill, but that is what this is about.
The first exemption sought is for advertisements attached to airside travel retail. Section 14 prohibits alcohol advertisements from the locations listed in the sections such as parks, train stations and bus stops. Airports or airside travel retail are not listed here, so this exemption is not necessary. Section 14 also prohibits alcohol advertising from within 200 m of the perimeter of a school, crèche or local authority playground. I am not aware of any airport shopping complexes that would be so close to a school, crèche or local authority playground and, therefore, I do not believe the issue as outlined in the amendment arises. On that basis, it is not clear to me at all what is the intended effect of this amendment.
These amendments also propose to exempt a park or an open space owned or maintained by a local authority during the time that an occasional licence to sell alcohol is in operation. Events for which an occasional licence would be granted for a park or open space include open air concerts or music festivals which particularly appeal to younger people. It is difficult to see the need for any additional alcohol advertising at such events, especially during a time when alcohol is already on sale. I have never heard of anyone going to a concert or a music event outdoors having difficulty accessing alcohol. The question is why there would be a need to have additional alcohol advertising to point out to people why they should drink alcohol. This Bill prohibits alcohol advertising in parks and open spaces because it is here that our children go to play and young people go to play sports. It is the intention of this Bill that children and young people can do this without being exposed to alcohol marketing.
I also want to discuss the issue of directional signs. I will not dwell on it as we discussed it already, but it is related to this amendment. I have received legal advice from the Attorney General which makes clear that directional signs are not advertising under this Bill and, therefore, not restricted under section 14. If Members are attempting to say a directional sign is a billboard or an advertisement, that is a different matter, but a directional sign is not prohibited. Therefore, claims that tourists will be unable to find their way to these visitor centres because the signs will be banned or will not be allowed to contain the names of visitor centres is simply untrue. In fact, many of the pictures I have seen put forward by industry representatives, and supported by some in this House, are allowed under this Bill.
I accept Deputy Michael Healy-Rae's bona fides in representing his constituents and I appreciate his declaration of interest. I am representing a public health argument in this House, an argument I do not think is heard enough. We have heard an awful lot from the drinks industry during this debate. We need people at this stage to stand up for public health. Our children and young people are being exposed to an horrific amount of alcohol advertising in areas where they congregate. All we are trying to do in this section is to protect them from that so they can go about their childhood, go about playing their sports or playing in the park and go to their crèche or school without being subjected to advertising.
On the idea from the industry that advertising does not work, why does the industry spend so much on advertising? This is a multibillion euro drinks industry that targets our children and young people to ensure they are exposed to alcohol advertising from a young age. Under this Bill, we say that can happen no more, and I am very proud we are going to do this.
The House will be pleased to know we are taking these actions based on evidence. Research from the April 2017 issue of the medical journal, The Lancet, from where I would take medical advice and opinion, found that the strongest evidence for the impact of advertising on alcohol consumption comes from reviews of longitudinal and cohort studies observing children. These studies report consistently that exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with an increased likelihood that children will start to drink or, if they already drink, will drink greater quantities. The physical effects of drinking for an adolescent are significant compared with an adult. The 2016 evidence review, Alcohol in Ireland, from the Health Research Board, makes this clear when it states as follows:
Because of the relative immaturity of the adolescent brain compared to that of an adult, excessive drinking is especially hazardous for young people. An adolescent need drink only half as much as an adult in order to experience the same negative effects, and even occasional binge drinking can damage the young brain.
This measure will also contribute to protecting our young people from the mental health effects of alcohol consumption. The 2017 Young Lives in Ireland report from the National Suicide Research Foundation found, from a survey of more than 1,000 students aged 13 to 16, that significantly more of those who drank regularly had poor well-being, significant levels of depression and anxiety and had reported suicidal ideation when compared with those who were not regular drinkers. Adolescents who were drinkers were also eight times more likely to have attempted suicide compared with their peers.
Section 14 prohibits alcohol advertising from places where our children and young people go every day. It is a sensible section of the Bill. Any attempt to reduce these protections for our children is misplaced.
The intention of the Bill is to ensure that young people can travel, be educated and play without being exposed to aggressive forms of alcohol advertising. For these reasons, I certainly do not propose to accept these amendments.
Clarity is important. I ask Deputy O'Keeffe and others who speak not to deviate from the amendment.
It was interesting to note that not once in his deliberation on the effects of alcohol did the Minister mention the cancerous effects. It was announced a few times today that it is the sixth most significant cause of alcohol related death. I raise the issue of the exemption of visitor centres. While I appreciate the Minister's response, further clarification is needed. The Minister said last week that directional signs for visitor centres were exempt from the provision of the Bill. I am concerned this may not be the case. Section 14 states clearly that a person shall not advertise alcohol products within 200 m of the perimeter of the grounds of schools, early years services or playgrounds. The only exemption in the Bill is for signage attached to premises. This means free-standing directional or waymarking signage containing the name of a brewery, distillery or alcohol brand would be banned from display within 200 m of a school or early years facility.
I give the Minister an example from my own backyard. In east Cork, we have the Jameson experience in Midleton, which is a very popular Irish whiskey museum and visitor centre. The facility has been operating as a visitor centre for many years and welcomes more than 100,000 guests per year, including 100,000 visitors in 2017. Under the Bill, the Jameson experience in Midleton will not be allowed to advertise unless the fonts are changed. It is the Jameson experience, Midleton. That is the only name one hears when one hears of whiskey in east Cork. It is the big one. Does this mean this signage will not be allowed in the vicinity of some of the schools in Midleton? Irish Distillers is based in Midleton and on the approaches to it from every direction, one passes many schools. The problem arises when the visitor centre includes the name of the brand. That is why I am coming in here. The name of the brand is the name of the visitor centre. The majority of visitors arrive by bus or car and they avail of directional signs.
I note the position in this big city of ours. In Dublin 8 alone, there will be chaos and confusion as tourists struggle to find the visitor centres they wish to visit, including the Guinness Storehouse, Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery or the Dublin Liberties Distillery. Many of those premises carry the name of the brand or alcoholic drinks being sold. How does the Minister propose to provide for directional signs for those centres? Some distilleries market their brands under a different company name, but I have a problem where distilleries and breweries have signage including the brand name. How do we get around that issue? Will they have effective directional signs? That is what I want clarification on.
The Deputy can look for clarification later. I call Deputy Michael Collins to whom the same rule applies. We do not want to curtail debate.
Last week, I tried to get clarity on a couple of issues but the Minister said I was only being frivolous, which was to talk down to me. I was only asking an honest question. This is the time to clarify this. The total time I have spent contributing on this issue is 20 minutes and we have a right to speak and put forward amendments. There is no point clarifying matters when the horse has bolted.
There is still confusion over the directional signage. It came up during the debate last week when the Minister claimed that directional signs to visitor centres would be unaffected by any of the provisions of the Bill. I am concerned that this is not the case and raise the matter once again. Cork South-West is home to Blacks Brewery, West Cork Distillers and West Cork Brewing Company. These small enterprises play a huge part in enhancing west Cork's reputation as a key tourism destination. Blacks Brewery in Kinsale is located close to St. Multose national school and directional signs to its visitor centre would have to be removed from the town under the provisions of the Bill. The West Cork Brewery in Kinsale also boasts a visitor centre. Its capacity to advertise that visitor centre would also be affected by the Bill. These are issues which need to be clarified.
I should mention at this stage that I have a conflict of interest as two of my brothers have public houses in west Cork, one in Bandon and one in Bantry. My daughter depends on the pub business also as she works in one. That connection is not influencing me in any way, however. I will make my own decisions here.
With regard to advertising restrictions, I highlight in particular the impact these provisions will have on imported publications. That important point has yet to be touched on. It will be unlawful for any magazine imported into Ireland for sale and distribution to be sold unless it meets the specific criteria set out in sections 13 and 18, including the specified health warnings and recently added cancer warnings. How will this measure be enforced? Does the Minister expect that imported publications will be redesigned completely? Will their alcohol advertising satisfy the requirements of the Bill? Will the Department go through Time, Vogue or National Geographic and tear out the pages? Will the Minister instruct magazines across the world that they will not be allowed to advertise their beer or will they have a clear run at advertising their products in our country without any of these warnings? It creates a very unfair playing pitch. We want real clarity on this issue. Requiring newspapers and magazines from the UK and elsewhere in the EU to redesign their alcohol advertisements to meet the specific criteria in the Bill will place costs on these publications equivalent to a barrier to trade within the EU and breach Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. I ask the Minister to consider removing the cancer warnings from these advertisements.
I will move to my final remarks. While it is democratic to put forward amendments, it would not be to spend too much time speaking to them. Last week, the Minister said he spoke to several expert groups and individuals about this. He named 20 or 30. The people are crying out, however, and asking in regard to the hundreds of thousands on waiting lists why the Minister is not talking to experts and taking action on waiting lists. What about the 50,000 people who need eye surgery as a matter of urgency, some of whom are going blind? Deputy Healy-Rae and I are taking them to the North of Ireland. They are going blind on the Minister's watch.
This is not relevant.
The Minister will say that has nothing to do with this Bill but if he can take advice from all of those people, he should take it from a lot more. People are going blind on his watch but he has his eyes covered to it.
There will be fewer people on waiting lists. This legislation is to protect people.
We are straying.
I call Deputy Danny Healy-Rae and remind him that we are dealing with directional signs.
It is directional signage to places where people are working. There are 6,450 people employed in the drinks and hospitality trade in County Kerry, which is 10.5% of the total number of people in employment in the county. I should declare that I am the owner of a pub and have been for many years. I live there. This demonisation of alcohol is going too far. There was never anything wrong with a man having a pint on a warm summer's evening after a hard day's work.
There is nothing in the Bill to say that a man who wants a pint on a hot summer's day cannot have one. It is not relevant. I ask the Deputy to home in on the advertising provisions of section 14 and the proposal to amend it.
Worried people have asked me about the situation where pubs are close to schools. What will happen there?
They are not affected.
Are they going to be prohibited from advertising what they have on their premises?
The Minister says no.
All this will have a detrimental effect on employment and the people who work in these visitor centres and in the drinks industry as a whole. Again, the cancer label is a kind of stigma that people will look at and they will refrain from having just a social drink or a drink to which they are entitled after a hard day's work.
That is not the issue.
That is not what we are discussing.
We are not debating that.
We have gone past that.
If the House decides that it wants to go back to a Second Stage debate-----
I am merely implementing the rules. Please, Deputy Healy-Rae.
I am still very worried about this signage-----
Let us get clarification from the Minister. If he needs a bit of leeway in time, we will give it to him.
-----and the effect it will have on these visitor centres and the people who, as was stated, in bad times set out on a road of creating employment and producing a product for the market. This will hurt them in a very real way. Maybe we cannot fully understand yet the implications of it, but the worry is that it will have a seriously detrimental effect on the industry and that there will be no gain from what we set out to do in the first place. What this Bill set out to do when it started out over three years ago was to curb underage drinking and to-----
No, it was not.
That is not true.
That is what it set out to do, but many things have been added onto it in recent times.
I will use my discretion and allow the Minister to allay Deputy Healy-Rae's fears.
I am very opposed to what the Minister is proposing.
To answer the question, which I think was what implication this legislation will have for visitor centres and businesses, the answer is "none" because directional signs are allowed under the legislation.
I do not know whether everyone heard the Minister's clarification, but what I heard was that he had got advice from the Attorney General to the effect that directional signage would be permissible under this legislation-----
-----so I do not know why we are even debating this again. Well, I do - we all know why - but we need to get off this. The Bill will pass, and the quicker it passes, the better.
I know the Jameson distillery in Midleton well. It is in Deputy O'Keeffe's constituency, my neighbouring constituency. If I were a tourist trying to find it, I would probably put it into my satnav and drive to it. I would not walk around looking for a directional sign, which under this legislation will still exist, and for any Deputy to try to suggest that any change to directional signage, which will be permissible under this legislation, will have an impact on tourist numbers or jobs is ludicrous and must be called out for what it is. This is a tactic on the part of individuals in this House-----
Yes. That is all it is.
-----to delay this legislation for as long as possible. I ask them to stop and to listen to the Minister-----
The Deputy should stop playing to the Gallery.
-----when he gets to his feet. He went to the trouble of clarifying this and then you get up and try to sidetrack it with-----
Through the Chair.
-----"I need a sign to find my way home because I live in a pub", or "If I do not have directional signage, the person down the road might not be able to find my own pub". This is crazy stuff, lads. Let us just pass the legislation tonight.
I call Deputy Scanlon.
I am glad to have an opportunity to speak. I have listened to everyone's view. I cannot understand why the Bill has taken three years to get to this stage and I will not delay it this evening, but I would like to make a few comments.
I am glad the Minister clarified the situation regarding directional signage for distilleries, breweries, etc., when he spoke. I do not own a pub, I have no axe to grind and, thank God, I can take a drink or leave it. It does not matter to me. At the same time, I recognise the amount of employment that has been created by these industries, particularly in my home town and in other rural areas. They are the only jobs that have come into rural areas since the recession, since the real bang came, and we are lucky to have them. I am delighted there are 30 jobs in my home town. Quite recently there was a visitors' day at the brewery. Some 1,500 people arrived by a special train to my home town to see what happens in breweries. I could not believe it, but it is a massive tourist attraction.
When one considers that 2.5 million people came into this country last year to visit distilleries or breweries throughout the country, including the Guinness Storehouse, it is clear it is big tourist business. All we want to do is ensure we do not damage this because these jobs are awfully important. People have taken big risks to create them. I refer in particular to microbreweries. What we want is a level playing field. I understand what the Minister is trying to do about alcohol. I fully understand, as does everyone in this House and outside it, the damage alcohol does, whether it be fatalities on the road from drink-driving or families destroyed. No one likes this and no one wants to see it, and we are not trying to protect it. What we are trying to do is protect the jobs that have been created in a reasonable manner in order that these people, having invested a lot of money, have an opportunity to survive and that their businesses grow. Most of what is being produced in these breweries and distilleries is being exported. It is not being drunk in Ireland, as far as I can see - very little of it anyway. It is all export, which creates more wealth for the country.
I wish to raise another issue, one to which I referred the other night. I was in a shop the other evening and two cans of lager could be bought for the same price as a bottle of Coke. There is something wrong with that. Young people are in these shops and looking at what is going on in them. This below-cost selling and the sale of loss leaders to try to attract people into businesses need to be addressed.
That is another issue for another day. We will have clarification from the Minister to allay some of the fears expressed and then we will move on.
I will be very brief because I think I have addressed much of this already. To respond to Deputies O'Keeffe and Scanlon and the other Deputies who asked for clarity on directional signs, let me yet again state that directional signs are not classified as advertisements. They are allowed. The point Deputy Jonathan O'Brien made is also valid. We have many ways of finding our way around to visitor centres - Google Maps, satnavs and so on - but directional signs are allowed under the legislation.
To respond to Deputy Danny Healy-Rae's point as to whether the pub is allowed to advertise, the legislation is clear that an advertisement attached to a licensed premises is not included in the restrictions either, so the local pub advertising its existence with a sign attached to the licensed premises is indeed allowed.
To respond to Deputy Michael Collins's questions, the legislation is very clear as to who will carry out inspections in respect of the various compliance sections in the legislation, and that is the environmental health officers. They are the authorised officers in the legislation. I take and appreciate the point Deputy Scanlon makes. No one in this House has a monopoly on concern for people who have experienced very significant alcohol difficulties and for the harm alcohol has caused our country, families and communities right across the land. It is not good enough, however, for us just to understand. We must do something about this. In fairness to Deputies on the opposite side of the House, when their party was in government, it showed great courage on tobacco, not just saying we have a problem with smoking, but also doing something about it. It instigated a series of legislative measures in respect of public health and tobacco, and successive Governments, of which we are one, are building on that and seeing the benefit of it. We need to pass public health legislation in respect of alcohol because it is not enough for us all to say we know about the terrible problems. We must try to fix them. We must try to do something. We are not powerless in this House to act, and that is what this is about.
For all the reasons I have outlined, I am not in a position to accept the amendments.
On a point of order-----
A point of order? What is the point of order? Let me hear what the point of order is and I will decide-----
On a point of clarification, going forward-----
Yes. I apologise.
Much has been made of marketing initiatives and so forth. If an individual in south Tipperary comes up with the brand name "Galtee" tomorrow morning and opens up the Galtee distillery, can he use directional signage which uses the name "Galtee"? This is going to come down the road when new companies form.
Brand names are allowed on directional signage. On the Deputy's use of the term "tomorrow morning", we have already had 1,000 days of discussion on the legislation and there will be a one-year lead-in period in respect of the restrictions on advertising and a three-year lead-in period in respect of other elements of the Bill. There is a lead-in period for everybody to get prepared.
As fewer than ten Members have risen, I declare the question 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.
I move amendment No. 20:
In page 19, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:
“(iii) airside travel retail,
(iv) a park or open space owned or maintained by a local authority, which is the subject of an Occasional Licence granted under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962, while that licence is in operation, or
(v) any premises provided it takes the form of directional signage, an advertisement, or any other commercial communication, relating to the promotion of a visitor centre owned by a licenced manufacturer of alcohol products which may or may not attach to a premises licensed for the manufacture of alcohol products.”.
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.
Amendments Nos. 21 and 23 are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 21:
In page 20, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:
“Prohibition of sports sponsorship
15. (1) Alcohol sponsorship will be phased out by 31 December 2023.
(2) In this section—
“sponsorship” means any form of public or private contribution to any sports event, sports area, association or person with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting an alcohol product or brand or alcohol consumption;
“sports area” means an area, whether indoors or outdoors, where participants participate in sporting activities, or competitors compete in sporting competitions, and includes a playing pitch or area, a swimming pool, an athletics track, a dog or horse racing track or a motor racing track.”.
Comprehensive evidence shows that children and young people are not only exposed to a large amount of alcohol marketing but that their behaviour and beliefs are influenced by these messages about alcohol and its use, increasing the likelihood they will start to drink or, if using alcohol, drink more. Unfortunately, our sporting organisations are now one of the primary vehicles through which the alcohol industry markets its unhealthy products. Sports should be inspiring and encouraging good health and active participation, not alcohol consumption.
Exposure to alcohol sponsorship during sporting events themselves is just one part of it. Alcohol sponsorship of sport is now the foundation for a wide range of alcohol marketing activity, with advertising in a variety of forms then used to activate the sports sponsorship and drive consumption of alcohol. Pairing a healthy activity such as sport with a potentially unhealthy product such as alcohol is inappropriate and ultimately makes that product seem less unhealthy. It creates a culture where children and young people perceive alcohol consumption as something closely associated with sporting success and celebration. We need to break the link between this healthy activity and this potentially unhealthy product as we did with tobacco.
A ban on alcohol sponsorship of sport would help to protect children from exposure to the relentless promotion of alcohol. Phasing out alcohol sponsorship of sport over several years, rather than seeking to implement an immediate ban, is a proportionate response and one that provides sporting organisations with the time they need to secure replacement sponsors. Again, the recommendation of the steering group on the national substance abuse strategy was that drinks industry sponsorship of sport and other large public events should be phased out in legislation by 2016.
We have ignored that proposal and now this legislation could and should aim to address that. The steering group noted the need to balance the argument on support for sponsorship with the requirement to decouple the association between sports and culture with alcohol in order to protect public health. It is by phasing out sponsorship that we give sporting bodies the chance to examine alternative sources of sponsorship.
I would like to speak to this amendment because I am totally opposed to what is being proposed. We cannot take young people and wrap them up in cotton wool and say they will never see something that we do not want them to see. Every young person today has a mobile phone. It is no longer a communications instrument for making phonecalls. It is their connection to the outside world. It is their newsfeed. There is advertising on mobile phones and they can see everything on them, whether it has something to do with alcohol, smoking or anything else.
It is wrong to try to demonise our sporting industries and our GAA clubs. If a team wins a game and the people who played on the team or who were at the game want to celebrate that win, or if people want to celebrate when something good happens in a parish or a community, there is nothing wrong with that provided the people are of the appropriate age to drink alcohol. None of us is saying anything about allowing, promoting or wanting young people to get interested in alcohol when they are underage. However, if people participate in a sporting game, be it hurling or football, and if they want to go for a celebration after it, it is not right to paint the picture that is wrong and that people should not go to the local public house. If they wish to do so, there is nothing wrong with that. There was a long-standing tradition that if a team won a cup and the team and its supporters went to the local pub, the local publican would put something into the cup and the people would have a little sip out of the cup. It is not right to insinuate there is something wrong with that.
I mean no disrespect to the Deputy and she has her opinion, but I have my opinion. I do not agree with demonising those involved in sports and saying that this is wrong. I see nothing in the world wrong with people going to the local pub to have a celebration after winning a game, a championship, a county final, a local club game or an all-Ireland final. If people want to celebrate those events, there is nothing wrong with that. Life is short and if people want to celebrate any issue, there is nothing wrong with that provided they are adults, of the appropriate age, and that they act in a responsible fashion.
To say it is wrong for sporting organisations to get advertising sponsorship from drinks groups is more rubbish. I totally disagree with that and I will tell the Deputy the reason. If the drinks industry has money, wants to advertise and is willing to support a local club or team, I see nothing in the world wrong with that. It is perfectly above board. It is wrong to try to make that illegal. It would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I do not agree with it. That has been the practice for many years. If young people who are of an age want to have a drink and act responsibly, there is nothing wrong with that. If they want to join the local pioneers and be a member of the pioneer association, that is fine too. People have choices to make in life.
In the context of the Bill, I support measures promoting alcohol awareness and the level of alcohol people could or should consume. If, as is proposed, we break the sports sponsorship link with the drinks industry and those involved in the alcohol business, where will the money come from to fund local clubs that have been relying on sponsorship from drinks advertising? Who is going to make up the shortfall? There is nothing wrong with advertising alcohol. It is the same as advertising any other product. It is not an illegal product. There is nothing wrong with alcohol in moderation. This proposal is a nonsense. It is wrong. It would be very hurtful to many of our sporting organisations. Many people have asked me what they are supposed to do to make up the shortfall of money if they are not allowed to accept advertising or sponsorship from drinks groups.
I seek clarification on the amendment. There are many bars throughout the country which sponsor soccer teams, GAA teams, all classes of sporting organisation and the quid pro quo for that sponsorship is that their particular hostelry is emblazoned on the jersey. As a consequence of this amendment, will that practice cease beyond 31 December 2023? That practice is, by implication, advertising alcohol. If that is the case many smaller clubs who rely on that essential sponsorship from small local family owned inter-generational bars could have a serious permutation in terms of trying to fill the gap on foot of the lack of that sponsorship that would have been readily available. I seek clarification on that.
May I clarify that?
The steering group on a national substance abuse strategy was very cognisant of that exact point which is the reason it recommended phasing it out. That is the reason the amendment references 2023. In proposing the amendment we are seeking to ensure that alcohol sponsorship is phased out, rather than immediately stopped so that there would not be an immediate cliff, as it were, but a phasing out of the sponsorship.
Therefore, it will cease.
In essence, if a local bar in a local town or village wants to sponsor the local GAA team beyond 2023, the permutation of this amendment is such that they will not be able to do that anymore.
Yes because that is in line with the recommendations of the steering group on a national substance abuse strategy.
I thank the Deputy.
I have allowed that clarification.
I would like further clarification. In many villages in the area I come from where there are sports clubs, the only vibrant sponsorship available is from the local publican. They have been given a few years grace but the way things are going in rural Ireland, they will not need it because many of them will have shut down, especially if we have more draconian laws coming out of this House.
I attend many sports events. Lately, I attended a cricket match in the Deputy's constituency and I did not see any unruly behaviour. Over the years I have attended major Gaelic games matches in Munster where people had access to alcohol before a match and I did not see any unruly behaviour whatsoever. I never saw that at any match, even at all-Ireland finals in Dublin. The only time I saw a fight was in Dublin in 1982, the year we drew with Dublin and they had Barney Rock. The Dublin fans on Hill 16 came running down by Barry's pub and we had to get off the street. That was not from the alcohol; it was just the force of the Dublin supporters who attended the match. What message are we sending out with this Bill? If the Deputy were to amend her amendment to propose a ban on such advertising in the case of under-age teams, I could probably understand but, for God's sake, I ask her not to put senior clubs out of business.
I am concerned that we are going to decimate our remaining rural pubs. Due to issues with transport, if these pubs did not have established reputations they would already have gone out of business. Young people no longer hang around in villages. At weekends, they travel to the big towns and the cities. Recently, a man who has a disco bar said to me that I must ask the Minister to reduce the licence fee that applies to such bars at weekends. I asked why and he explained that when that licence fee was increased more than ten years ago - it was probably done by my party when in government - many people were going to clubs but that this is no longer the case because they are going off to big events. There are big concerts in Dublin every night. From where are the resources being pulled? They are being pulled from rural Ireland. There is only one last real opportunity for survival for these pubs and local GAA and rugby clubs. This Bill will kill them off straight away, however, with no thought into the issue. I am aware that a run-in period is being provided in the amendment but the damage is going to be done.
This amendment is deplorable. This is another attack on rural Ireland, or what is left of it. I am a publican and I make no bones about that fact. What is proposed will, as Deputy O'Keeffe noted, affect publicans in rural towns and villages who have given freely to sponsor local clubs. The Acting Chairman, Deputy Eugene Murphy, probably understands that most villages have only one pub and one shop. There are not too many places that GAA clubs can go within their communities in order to try to attract support. What is proposed will deny those clubs an option. We are referring to the GAA in rural communities in this context. To deny a GAA club the option of going to the local pub to obtain sponsorship is deplorable. I hope the Minister is opposed to the amendment. Denying clubs a chance to get sponsorship from the local publican - whoever he or she may be - is an almighty attack on GAA clubs. This will break up whole rural communities, villages and small parishes.
Small GAA clubs in rural areas face a desperate task in trying to retain their identities and even in trying to get enough players to field teams. Consider the great village of Sneem, from where the great John Egan came. John Egan feared nobody in any county, in Croke Park or wherever he played. The village of Sneem has had to join up with Castlecove and Caherdaniel in order to field a team. In south Kerry and along the Ring of Kerry, it is a struggle to even make up the numbers in schools. Only two new children enrolled in one of the schools in south Kerry this year.
Where will the sponsorship come for local clubs if publicans are deprived of the opportunity to provide sponsorship? They are doing their best. GAA officers are trying to keep the game going and to keep children involved. It is absolutely ridiculous that it would even be suggested that the link between local business people and GAA clubs should be broken. What is proposed is terrible and it is shameful. I do not have the words to describe how bad it is. This is a real attack on rural Ireland. The Minister will be reminded of it when his fellow Deputies are on the canvass. If the Minister stops publicans from giving a few bob to their local GAA clubs, he will hear about it and he will be bullyragged about it everywhere he goes. This is a really serious attack on rural Ireland. The Minister will never be forgotten if he does this to the people in rural villages and small towns.
The reason we have finally reached this point, and will hopefully pass this legislation, is because our society, across all age groups, has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. A particularly concerning aspect is that our young people are so exposed to alcohol. Many adults tend to have an ambivalent attitude to alcohol and the exposure of children to it. We know from recent surveys that approximately one third of secondary school students engage in binge drinking on a monthly basis and that one quarter of those students are aged between 13 and 15. There is an undoubted connection between that level of binge drinking and the fact that children are exposed to a high level of alcohol advertising. The promotion of alcohol takes many forms and sports sponsorship is a significant component in that regard.
Representatives of the three main participation sports in Ireland have been very reluctant to divulge all the information on how much they receive in sponsorship from the alcohol industry. The indications are that funding they receive from that source each year is somewhere between €10 million and €20 million. The dependence on alcohol sponsorship is heavier for soccer and rugby, and especially for rugby. It is much higher than for the GAA. Thankfully, alcohol funding is now a relatively minor and declining element of the latter's sponsorship. It is clear that such sponsorship is not done for philanthropic reasons. It is sometimes put forward that those in the alcohol industry are providing these vast amounts of money out of the goodness of their hearts. Clearly, there is a substantial commercial gain for the drinks industry if it is willing to spend such sums on the promotion of its products.
There is ample evidence to show that the sponsorship of sport by the alcohol industry is effective and that it works in the context of increasing both brand share and the volume of alcohol consumed. There is substantial evidence in that regard. One of the very compelling pieces of research was conducted by Dr. Patrick Kenny at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Dr. Kenny has presented evidence that links alcohol promotion and sports sponsorship with harmful drinking. It is very difficult to dispute that research, and I am sure the Minister has come across the study. In the UK, Dr. Peter Anderson has written extensively on this matter.
Curbing the promotion of alcohol is supported by many reputable sources, including the chief medical officer, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, the British Medical Association and the World Health Organization. It is also important to note the analysis that was conducted by Professor Gerard Hastings into sponsorship by the alcohol industry of sports and music events in the UK. Internal industry documentation was sourced as part of an investigation that was carried out by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee. One industry document that was sourced, "They’ll drink bucket loads of the stuff", outlined the benefits for the alcohol industry in sponsoring sports and other activities. The analysis highlighted a very deliberate use of sports and music sponsorship to recruit young drinkers, especially young male drinkers.
Internal documents from Carling concluded that the point of Carling sponsorship was to, "Build the image of the brand and recruit young, male drinkers". That is the intention of Carling's sponsorship according to its own statement.
The document pointed to the attractiveness of piggy-backing on the heroes of young people in sport, music and other areas. The document concluded:
They [young men] think about four things. We brew one and sponsor two of them.
Having read this evidence, it would be impossible to conclude anything other than that the promotion of alcohol, including sport sponsorship, leads to earlier initiation of drinking, higher levels of consumption and greater health risks.
It is important to note that the proposed ban on sport sponsorship was contained in the original report of the steering group and identified as a key area that needed attention. Since then the alcohol industry has been successful in its active lobbying of successive Ministers and particularly, in the previous Government, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Regrettably the industry was very successful in its constant lobbying of those two Ministers. Those Ministers have since moved Departments and one would hope they have a greater insight into the importance, for health reasons, of banning the sponsorship of sporting events by the alcohol industry.
Members have warned of the impact of a ban on sports funding. Other sponsors will step in to take the place of the alcohol industry if their sponsorship is banned. That happened in the GAA, where there does not seem to be any difficulty in finding replacement sponsors. The Magners League is now the RaboDirect Pro-14. The Guinness Hurling Championship is now sponsored by Etihad, Centra and Liberty Insurance. Where Carlsberg was once the shirt sponsor for Liverpool FC, it is now Standard Chartered. The Carling Cup is now the Capital One Cup. There is not an issue with finding alternative sponsors.
This is a reasonable proposal. It proposes phasing out alcohol sponsorship of sporting areas and events over a five-year period. I urge the Minister and the main Opposition party to support this amendment. Advertising works and that is why the alcohol industry does it. We can protect our young people in particular by banning it. I urge support for the amendment.
I think phasing out alcohol sponsorship is one step too far. I totally disagree with it. There is a perception in the House that, when people see an advertisement for alcohol, they will turn into a zombie and go drinking for the evening. There are extremes in every walk of life, but 99% of people I know act responsibly.
Deputy Shortall said sporting organisations will find alternative sponsors. That is easily said. That may be true for big organisations. Local community centres or GAA clubs with an advertising hoarding at the side of their pitch advertising a drinks company might be dependent on that few hundred quid. This proposal is destroying every one of them. Where are they going to get sponsorship? It is no bother to Deputies here, who are all high and mighty with their talk, while thinking about the organisations at the top. I am talking about people at the bottom who are barely surviving. They depend on €300 or €400 to put an advertisement at the side of their pitch. According to this proposal, there will be no advertisements at playing pitches, swimming pools, athletics tracks, dog or horse racing tracks, or motor racing tracks. A man flying around in a car would stop for a while, look at the advert and head to the pub. That is the assumption here and the proposal will stop all of that. This is one step too far.
The Minister must look at the bigger picture and protect local, community, voluntary sporting organisations that need to make a few quid by putting an advertising hoarding at the side of their pitch. They need that money desperately. They will not be able to find it at the flick of a switch. I am involved in plenty of community and voluntary organisations and it is extremely difficult to get sponsorship in rural Ireland. If some of the Deputies lived in rural Ireland they would understand that and would not be talking the way they are. They are not talking with any level of understanding.
I have no doubt that, at the top level, some organisations might be able to convince insurance companies or something else to advertise and move away from drinks advertisements. I am talking on behalf of the ordinary, community, voluntary people and the ordinary sporting, GAA organisations and other organisations on the ground that totally depend on a few quid that is not going to lead anyone astray. There is a perception here that, if one sees an advertisement, one is heading to the pub for the rest of the evening. That is not the way it works in reality.
The Minister has to make a decision whether he supports this proposal or he supports the community and the GAA clubs.
I intend to let the Minister in to have his say in a minute. Before that, Deputy Alan Kelly has seven minutes if he wishes.
I will only take 60 seconds.
There is no doubt the drinks industry is unscrupulous. Its behaviour can, at times, be concerning and unscrupulous in many different ways. I have spoken about it in the House. I have made charges in this House about the industry's competitive practices and the manner in which it behaves. I am well aware of how the industry uses and targets advertising.
However, the Labour Party will be opposing this amendment. The simple fact is the amendment uses a mallet to break a nut. The consequences of this on various sporting organisations across the country would be seismic. Anyone who has an appreciation for small clubs across all codes, not just the GAA, would know there are many mixed businesses, whether serving food and drink, or whatever, that contribute to their community. It is not necessarily for the sake of the advertising that they get because some of the clubs that get advertising from bars or restaurants would not be the most successful clubs. The sponsors are contributing to their communities and helping the clubs to continue to do something very healthy in promoting sport and providing facilities. That would end under this proposal. That would not be good for all of these clubs. I am adamant that, when it comes to small sponsorship of sporting events and clubs in rural or urban communities across Ireland, to lose the capacity to do that would be a negative thing. It would also be a negative thing from a health perspective. In many of these locations there are very few outlets to go to for advertising income.
On the basis of that alone, the Labour Party will be opposing this amendment, even though I know the nature of some of the large-scale drinks companies and have promoted small producers of beverages and had legislation passed dealing with that issue.
I want to say to Deputy Michael Collins that advertising works. Nobody is suggesting people will become zombies but, as Deputy Shortall has eloquently outlined, the drinks companies take out advertising because they believe it will make us drink more alcohol and more of their brand of alcohol. They would not be spending many millions of euro of their commercial operations on advertisements if they did not believe it works. They are not advertising for the good of their health. They are advertising to the detriment of people's health.
Instinctively I think there is something wrong with the idea of something, as Deputy Kelly has rightly articulated, which is as good as sport for our health and which is part of our Healthy Ireland agenda, being contaminated by advertising things that are clearly bad for our health. It does not sit well with me as Minister for Health and it should not sit well with any of us. There is an idea that the Bill is bad for rural Ireland. We often hear on many different health matters that they only affect people living in the greater Dublin area. There is a serious problem with alcohol in all parts of this country, both urban and rural. As Minister, I have a need and a duty to introduce public health legislation, which protects all of our people in every part of the country. We should not try to divide our country into parts. This is a national health issue, which affects every community in our country.
I do not accept that there are no alternative ways to fund sport. Deputy Shortall gave examples of where that has happened. I do not see this as a Holy Grail with a link between the two that can never be decoupled. It can be and should be, and it is desirable that it would be. I propose in the Bill that we make a start in the provisions that we have outlined to protect children in sport. I propose that we then, with the built-in review to this legislation within three years of commencement, return and sports sponsorship could be examined as part of that review.
Section 15 will prohibit the advertising of alcohol in, or on, a sports area during a sporting event, an event aimed at children or at events in which the majority of participants or competitors are children. In addition, section 16 will prohibit the sponsorship of events in which the majority of participants or competitors are children, events aimed particularly at children and events involving driving or racing motor vehicles. It is important that we clearly break the link between driving and alcohol. Sponsorship is defined as a contribution that is intended to promote an alcohol product or brand or to promote alcohol consumption. I am pleased that we are making a start in the legislation and I would like us to go further in the future. Section 21 provides that there must be a review of all advertising provisions within three years of the commencement of that section. The issue of sports sponsorship will be revisited as part of that review. For these reasons, I do not propose to accept these amendments on this occasion.
Members who have contributed are entitled to another two minutes if they wish. It is Deputy O'Reilly's amendment, if she wishes to make a short contribution.
I note the Minister's comments and welcome his commitment to deal with this at a later date. Deputies who raise the issue of rural Ireland at every available opportunity, as they will, do so on this occasion in a somewhat misguided way. Some 500 people every year die as a direct result of alcohol harm in this State. It is not confined to cities. If it was, I could understand and take seriously some of the concerns. It gets a little hard to hear every day that everything that happens is an attack on rural Ireland. This is a health Bill.
It is about the health of the entire nation. It is about the health of the citizenry of the State. It is not designed to impact more on one area than another. There are 500 people who die. If any person in this Chamber could stand up and say that was a Dublin-only issue, I could take seriously some of what was said. It is regrettable that the Government is not supporting this but I welcome the Minister's commitment to deal with this issue later. It is not just my opinion or that of my party. It is a view shared by the steering group on the national substance abuse strategy that we need to phase out sponsorship regardless of the age or the code. We need to do that and to set a date for it. I am happy to engage with the Minister after this process so that we can put that timeline in place.
I reiterate that I cannot agree with the amendment. I do not agree with what the Minister proposes to do in the future. I never mentioned rural Ireland in my contribution because I never tried to say that this was specifically for one area or another. I am against what has been proposed for the whole country because I do not agree with it. If people are here in Dublin, win a game and want to go to a public house to celebrate, I can see nothing wrong with that. If they live in rural Ireland and want to do the same, I see nothing wrong with that. It is political correctness gone mad. That is what is happening in this country. While things may have been wrong in the past, we are now in a race to the bottom in trying to make ourselves so politically correct that when people win a match, they should go away and have a banana. If people want to celebrate, there is nothing wrong with it, with or without alcohol. It does not have to be with alcohol. Many people go to their local pub after a game and they celebrate by having a mineral or a bottle of orange. I have been great friends with people who never tasted a drop of alcohol in their lives but are regular visitors to a pub, like going to matches and like celebrating in the local pubs afterwards. It is not about alcohol but being in a place where people gather. People in Ireland gather in public houses. It has been a tradition in the past and I see nothing wrong with that. It is not a criminal offence to want to visit one's local pub.
I welcome the remarks from Deputy Róisín Shortall. She pointed out that the major conglomerates such as the GAA with Croke Park, and the Aviva Stadium, have worked together with regard to the reduction of alcohol advertising. I am not talking about the alcohol brands advertising at the local crossroads; I am talking about public houses themselves. Deputy O'Reilly proposed that publicans themselves should be shut out of giving sponsorship any time their name is used. That is what I am getting at. The only time some of the rural pubs in my area get a bonus is when the local club team wins. I recently saw my own club officials tell the young players to hang around the village for a while because the publican supports the club. The youngsters did the formality of having one or two drinks but went on to Cork city afterwards. We have to be careful. I am not talking about brand sponsorship but contributions from publicans themselves or from licensed restaurants. Deputy O'Reilly should pull back on that. I have acknowledged that I have no problem with banning the advertisements directed at under-age players. With regard to senior clubs, I am sure when people get past 21 years of age, they have some responsibility. As Deputy Michael Healy-Rae wondered, have we gone over the top with political correctness and do we have no responsibility in rearing our children? Should we pass the buck on to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs? Let us be responsible here.
Listening to some Members, one would think we were proposing to ban alcohol. We need to get this into perspective. The point of sports sponsorship is to create an association between alcohol and positive events in life, particularly positive events for young people, such as sport and music events. They do that because it works. They plough millions of euro into it every year because it works. It recruits young drinkers. Let us not fool ourselves about that. On section 15, something is better than nothing, but it is weak. What is the Minister talking about when he refers to events where a majority of participants are children? There are few such events - perhaps community games or a swimming gala. The main sports that kids are really caught up in, interested in and enjoy are those with heavy sponsorship. There is a reason for that. I note what the Minister says about the review in three years. That is fine.
The difficulty is that this whole process started nine years ago when the steering group was set up. Are we going to go through another big long rigmarole on this again for a review? The commitment is that in three years' time a review will be established so it is kicking it down the road quite a bit. Is the Minister prepared to go a bit further tonight and to commit to setting up a group to examine the issue in the short term with a view to having the analysis and research done within three years in time for the statutory commitment to review the situation?
I am pleased the Minister is on our side this time in opposing the amendment.
Deputy Michael Collins should not go that far.
I knew that sooner or later he would understand this was one step too far. I am pleased that his party colleagues or someone has brought him to his senses to some degree.
Deputy Michael Collins's friends.
I make no apology to any Deputy or anyone else when I speak about rural Ireland. I come from a constituency where rural Ireland is very much relevant. In the past three weeks seven businesses that I know of have closed in my constituency. They were businesses that contributed to local and community organisations.
Could we stick to the amendment?
Yes, I am getting to the point.
I am sorry.
You should give me a second, Acting Chairman, I am getting to the point.
The Chair has the right to speak, nobody else. In all fairness, we are dealing with advertising and the Deputy should please stick to that.
That is what I am talking about. The seven businesses were giving sponsorship and such businesses were great to provide sponsorship to organisations in towns and villages and now they are gone. Unfortunately, in some situations, we are again dependent on alcohol companies to help sponsor local community centres and GAA clubs. Such sponsorship is vitally important. If such sponsorship is removed, it will only add more hardship to community groups. I am pleased the Minister agrees this is not the right way forward and that he will not support the amendment. While I am in the Dáil I will never support such an amendment.
Does Deputy Kelly wish to make a further contribution?
It has all been said.
I thank the Minister for not accepting the amendment. I did say that it would hurt people in rural areas more because in a rural parish or village there are perhaps only four or five businesses that can be approached for sponsorship. There may be one shop, one pub and perhaps a couple of other people that a club can approach so the proposed amendment would have affected rural areas in a more adverse way.
More goes on in a pub than the consumption of alcohol. People go to pubs for different reasons. One of them is that it is a place to meet because there are not too many places in a rural area where people can meet to have a cup of tea.
I do not want to cut across the Deputy but I do not think anybody is proposing stopping people going into a pub. We are talking about advertising.
But it would inadvertently stop publicans from sponsoring the local GAA team.
It would not, unless his name was Heineken.
We are dealing with-----
You are wrong to interrupt me, Acting Chairman. A publican cannot say he is sponsoring a team because he is serving tea. That is what was happening here. The measure could have been brought in very stealthily. A publican does a lot of other things than serve alcohol.
The Deputy should address the amendment.
He provides a lot of other services than alcohol. The amendment could deprive a publican of sponsoring a team which he gave his life to play for when he was younger. That is what the amendment is about.
The Deputy's time is up.
What is the Deputy talking about?
I make no apology for saying that no rural Deputy would think of tabling such an amendment. I make no apologies for saying that, Acting Chairman.
Deputy Danny Healy-Rae should respect the Chair. In fairness, I try to allow everybody to have their say any time I am in the Chair and I am quite annoyed that he is interrupting me the way he is. I only tried to point out to him that we are dealing with Deputy O'Reilly's amendment.
That is what the amendment was about.
We were not talking about stopping anyone going into a pub. They were the words the Deputy used. Would the Minister like to have a final say before we conclude discussion of the amendment?
The amendment would stop the publicans from sponsoring teams.
The Minister should be allowed to speak without interruption.
The only side I am on is the side of public health and passing this Bill which has been held up for more than 1,000 days. Different sections of the Bill were targeted with great intensity at various times. Tonight, all going well, we will pass the Bill through this House and we will end the three-year impasse and get on with commencing elements of the Bill.
My position is that we are making a start on the issue of sports sponsorship, but it is only a start and I accept the points Deputy O'Reilly and Deputy Shortall make in that regard. I am pleased that the legislation will allow for a review. I would like to see the review take place. I would be happy to interact with health spokespersons in terms of work that could be done, perhaps through the health committee. I am conscious that the committee played a very important role in leading the way on tobacco. It was perhaps ahead of its time and it could be a useful forum in which we could further explore this issue in advance of any such review. I would be very happy to engage with any Deputy with an interest in this issue in the interim. We are making a start tonight in this area. My priority and focus is on getting this Bill and all that is good in it passed as quickly as possible.
How stands the amendment? Is Deputy O'Reilly pressing it?
Yes, I am pressing it.
Amendments Nos. 22 to 24, inclusive, not moved.
- Adams, Gerry.
- Barry, Mick.
- Boyd Barrett, Richard.
- Broughan, Thomas P.
- Buckley, Pat.
- Crowe, Seán.
- Doherty, Pearse.
- Ferris, Martin.
- Funchion, Kathleen.
- Healy, Seamus.
- Kenny, Martin.
- Mitchell, Denise.
- Munster, Imelda.
- O'Brien, Jonathan.
- O'Reilly, Louise.
- Ó Broin, Eoin.
- Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
- Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
- Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
- Quinlivan, Maurice.
- Ryan, Eamon.
- Shortall, Róisín.
- Stanley, Brian.
- Bailey, Maria.
- Barrett, Seán.
- Breathnach, Declan.
- Brophy, Colm.
- Bruton, Richard.
- Butler, Mary.
- Canney, Seán.
- Carey, Joe.
- Casey, Pat.
- Cassells, Shane.
- Collins, Michael.
- Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
- Creed, Michael.
- Curran, John.
- D'Arcy, Michael.
- Deasy, John.
- Deering, Pat.
- Doherty, Regina.
- Donnelly, Stephen S.
- Dooley, Timmy.
- Doyle, Andrew.
- Durkan, Bernard J.
- English, Damien.
- Fitzgerald, Frances.
- Fitzmaurice, Michael.
- Fitzpatrick, Peter.
- Flanagan, Charles.
- Harris, Simon.
- Harty, Michael.
- Haughey, Seán.
- Healy-Rae, Danny.
- Healy-Rae, Michael.
- Howlin, Brendan.
- Kelleher, Billy.
- Kelly, Alan.
- Kyne, Seán.
- Madigan, Josepha.
- McGrath, Finian.
- McHugh, Joe.
- McLoughlin, Tony.
- Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
- Moran, Kevin Boxer.
- Moynihan, Aindrias.
- Moynihan, Michael.
- Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
- Murphy, Eugene.
- Naughton, Hildegarde.
- Neville, Tom.
- O'Brien, Darragh.
- O'Dea, Willie.
- O'Donovan, Patrick.
- O'Dowd, Fergus.
- O'Keeffe, Kevin.
- O'Loughlin, Fiona.
- O'Sullivan, Maureen.
- Phelan, John Paul.
- Pringle, Thomas.
- Rabbitte, Anne.
- Ring, Michael.
- Scanlon, Eamon.
- Sherlock, Sean.
- Smith, Brendan.
- Smyth, Niamh.
- Stanton, David.
- Zappone, Katherine.
Amendment No. 25 has been ruled out of order.
Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly
With your indulgence, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, can I seek clarification on two technical points from the Minister on section 22? The first is a health and safety issue that has been raised regarding wheelchair access. It is not looking to do anything to the heights of the barriers; they are what they are. Some of the retailers have stated that for wheelchair access there must be some visibility through a moving barrier. The section, as it stands, refers to no visibility. When this has to be implemented by the retailers, will the Minister liaise with the relevant health and safety group to make sure they can comply with the legislation and with the relevant health and safety legislation for wheelchair access?
The second issue is a minor clarification. Section 22 states that if a shop's sales are wholly or mainly alcohol, the provisions around physical separation do not apply. A concern has been raised that if the revenue from alcohol in a particular shop were to tip over, say, to 50%, the very good protections being put in place through the Bill would no longer apply, creating a perverse incentive. It is just a reference in the legislation to the alcohol revenue being wholly or mainly from alcohol. Would the intent of the Bill be that that would be well in excess of 50%? That is the clarification I seek.
Deputy Donnelly raises two important issues. First, from a practical point of view, in terms of engaging with retailers to be prepared for the structural separation we have in place, I am pleased to give the commitment in the House that it absolutely will take place. Obviously, there is a lead-in time of two years, which will allow for practical discussions on how people can comply with the legislation. It would be important that we facilitate that information being provided.
Second, this is very much about the difference between a shop that sells effectively purely or almost all alcohol, that is, an off-licence, rather than any sort of hybrid effort. I believe direction and clarity will be given to our environmental health officers in terms of how they enforce it.
As fewer than ten Members have risen I declare the question 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.
I thank all the Deputies who contributed to this Bill as it passed through the House. This Bill has had very lengthy consideration in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann. I pay particular thanks to my officials who have worked so hard on this Bill over a sustained period of time. I thank Dr. Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, Claire Gordon, Denise Keogh and Siobhán McNamara for their dedication to this Bill.
It has been a very long journey to get to this point. I really want to thank them for the leadership they have shown in the Department of Health during the passage of the Bill.
This is the first time in the history of our State that we have endeavoured to use public health legislation to address issues in respect of alcohol. It is, therefore, a groundbreaking measure. For the very first time in our history, we are legislating for alcohol as it affects our health and it is right and proper that we do so. We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, damages our health, harms our communities and harms many families. The measures in this Bill will make a real difference to changing the culture of drinking in Ireland over a period of time.
I acknowledge the many Members of this Oireachtas who worked to make it a reality. I congratulate and commend Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy on her great leadership on this issue.
I commend the former Minister of State, Deputy Róisín Shortall, on the leadership she showed in the Department of Health on this issue. I am very pleased that we are joined by Senator Frances Black, who has shown great leadership on this issue in Seanad Éireann. I commend all of the health spokespersons - Deputies Louise O'Reilly, Alan Kelly, Stephen Donnelly and Michael Harty - and others who have been so dedicated to the Bill.
I thank those in the Gallery and watching at home who make up Alcohol Action Ireland and the public health lobby. The alcohol lobby often gets a really loud hearing but these guys showed their resilience in making sure the public health lobby got a hearing as well. We are here today because of their work and dedication.
A message shall be sent to the Seanad acquainting it accordingly.