I beg to move:—
Immediately before Section 12 to insert a new Section 12 as follows:—
(1) From and after the 25th day of September, 1926, it shall not be lawful to carry on any business (except the businesses hereinafter expressly authorised) in the same building as that in which the business of the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises is carried on, unless the portion of the building in which such sale of intoxicating liquor is carried on is structurally separated from and has no internal communication with any portion of the building in which any other business (except as aforesaid) is carried on.
(2) From and after the 25th day of September, 1926, the renewal of a licence for the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises may be objected to on the ground that some other business (not being one of the businesses hereinafter expressly authorised) is carried on in the same building as that in which the sale of intoxicating liquor under such licence is carried on and that the portion of the building in which such sale of intoxicating liquor is carried on is not structurally separated from or has an internal communication with the portion of the building in which the other business aforesaid is carried on.
(3) Every licence holder who shall carry on the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding one pound for every day on which the offence is continued.
(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, it shall be lawful to carry on all or any of the following businesses in the same premises or portion of a building as that in which the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail for consumption on the premises is carried on, that is to say, the sale of tobacco, matches, and table waters, and the sale or supply of food for consumption on the premises.
(5) This section shall not apply to the sale of intoxicating liquor in any premises structurally adapted for use and bona fide exclusively used as a hotel, refreshment house, restaurant, or railway refreshment room, or to any theatre, music hall or other place of public amusement.
(6) No premises shall be included in the lists for revision under the Irish Valuation Acts merely on account of an alteration made to such premises, before the 25th day of September, 1926, solely for the purpose of enabling the provisions of this section to be complied with in regard to such premises.
I am afraid we have a very small House to discuss this amendment, but I suppose it cannot be helped. The object of my amendment is to make a division between the place of sale of groceries and other provisions and the place where drink is sold. I would like to point out that this section was not drawn up by me. I merely copied it from the original section that was brought before the Dáil by the Minister and thrown out on a free vote by the Dáil. The only change I have made is that I have changed the year to 1926 instead of 1925. The object of that is to give traders reasonable time to make the necessary changes in their houses and not to press them too hard. I would like also to point out that the rule that is intended to be enforced by this new section has been enforced for many years in England, and nobody would think in England of allowing drink to be consumed at the same counter as groceries. It is also the rule in the North-East of Ireland. A Bill was brought in the other day and passed through the Parliament of the North-East of Ireland, in Belfast, with practically the same object. I do not know why there should be a different system in the South of Ireland unless, of course, the system in the South was better. If it were a better system, of course, we would all agree to it, but, as far as I know, everybody in Ireland for years back, as long as I remember, has condemned this system. I never heard anyone say a word in favour of it except those who have licensed houses, and, of course, I do not blame them. Naturally they want to stick to whatever they have, and make as much money as they can, but I never heard anyone else in any part of Ireland say it was a good thing.
The object of this amendment is not to prevent people from drinking, or to prevent them from drinking at particular times. It is to enable people who want drink to go to a place specially provided for drink, and not to place other people in such a position that they will be persuaded and coaxed to drink and find it very difficult to refuse drink. Everybody, at least a person who comes from the country, knows perfectly well that when you go into a shop which is also a licensed house to buy groceries or necessaries of any kind, down at the end, or at the back, there is a counter where drink is sold, and if a customer is an old customer and is well known, he is generally taken down and given drink. I, myself, have often been asked to take a drink in such a shop. I suppose everybody has. Not only would they be asked by the owner of the house, but other customers coming in there to make bargains after fairs and markets invite such people and others accompanying them to have a drink. If they like to have a drink, let them go to a place labelled for such purpose. There is nothing to stop them. But very often people who do not want drink are coaxed and persuaded to have drink and they are frequently ashamed to refuse because, unfortunately, in this country people have an idea that it is a hospitable thing to offer drink and an unkind thing to refuse it. Why they should do that I do not know, but there it is. Too many people, who would sooner do without it, drink in such places.
Of course, as I said before, the licensed traders are against this section. Many of them have shops which they find it difficult or expensive to change. I do not want to conceal that. It is a fact, and their opposition is based on the injury which they see to their own personal interests. But what are the rest of the people of Ireland to do? Is their position improved or are they damaged in their pockets, in their health, or in their business by this method? I think that is what we should look at. Everybody knows perfectly well that this system is a bad system. Persons going in there to buy groceries are persuaded to go down and have a drink at the end of the shop. If they had to go into a real drinking-bar they would not care to do so. The Bill, as at present before us, aims at preventing children from coming into contact with drink. But that is not so easy where you have a mixed trade in a shop, as it is where the bar is separate. It is a difficult matter to prevent children coming into contact with drink where you have a shop in which a mixed trade is carried on. You begin by giving the children a taste for drink long before they should have any taste for it, and you lay a foundation which saps the manhood of the child in after years. That is responsible for ruining the trade and the industry of the country.
I ask Senators are they going to vote for the interests of a certain class of trade, or are they going to vote for the interests of the people of Ireland, men, women and children, not only the present generation but the future generations? Are they going, at the dictates of a certain trade, to vote for the continuation of a system that is admitted by everybody to be a disgrace to the country, and which is in force in no other country that I know of? I think Senators will hesitate before they do that. I know that the political and social influences of the trade are very great indeed. Numbers of people tell me —and of course I am not speaking of the Seanad now—that they would like to stop these influences, but they do not know how. The force of the trade is too strong. Are we all cowards in this country? Are we not to do what is right because there is a great force, not of public opinion, against us—because that now is in our favour—but because people belonging to a particular trade are against it? Some people will say that damage has been done to them already, and they do not think it would be fair to put certain traders in a particular difficulty; they might have to spend money, and so on, and they do not think that that would be fair.
What happened to the landlords in Ireland when they were considered to be an incubus to the country? The landlords, of course, were very few and very influential, and the result was that laws were passed practically confiscating their land, and confiscating half their incomes, perhaps more than half. I myself lost more than half my income. I am not complaining of that. I was always in favour of that. It was a necessity. It was necessary that the people of Ireland should come into the land, but here again why should we do it to one class and not to another. Is it because they are more influential in the country and that that may stand for something at elections when they come about? Is that going to be the reason? I hope not, and I do not think it is so. I hope that Senators will join with me in this. I have put off the date for making this change by a year, and I would be willing to put it off further, even to the year 1927. I would do anything to get sanction for the abolition of this system as soon as possible.
Some people say there is going to be a Commission, but that is the usual way when there is a difficulty. We will not do to-day what we can put off till to-morrow. That is what usually happens. If anything disagreeable is proposed, a Commission may not force us to do it, and somebody else will have the blame, so "let us put it off." Let us be strong. Let us do what everyone in the country wants done and which even the publicans themselves think it right and proper to do. I do not think it necessary to read through this long amendment which is on the paper, and you all know as much as I do about it. You all know that the present system is bad. I do not think there is anyone here who can deny that proposition. I appeal to the Seanad to do this one great thing for Ireland—possibly the greatest thing that has been done for Ireland since the Seanad came into being, and perhaps the greatest thing done for Ireland in the last 100 years.