Home > Joint Committee on Health and Children debate. Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013: discussion.

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Health and Children debate. Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013: discussion. (23 Jan 2014)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_...

Chairman: The main item on the agenda is a discussion of the heads of the Bill on the plain packaging of tobacco products in Ireland. As members are aware, the general scheme of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill 2013 was referred to the joint committee shortly before Christmas for its consideration. The Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, and the chief medical officer made a presentation to the committee by way of an introduction to this important Bill. This is the first of a series of meetings we will be convening in the coming weeks to consider the heads of the Bill. Today we will be hearing about the potential effects of the legislation on areas such as counterfeiting, smuggling, criminal activity and enforcement. In this regard, I welcome from An Garda Síochána the assistant commissioner, Mr. Derek Byrne, national support service; Detective Chief Superintendent Eugene Corcoran, chief bureau officer, Criminal Assets Bureau; and Detective Chief Superintendent Patrick Kennedy, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. I welcome from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners Mr. Gerard Moran, assistant secretary, indirect tax division; Ms Emma Clutterbuck, principal officer, excise branch, indirect tax division; and Mr. Michael Gilligan, principal officer, investigations branch. I welcome from the National Office of Tobacco Control of the Health Service Executive Mr. Gavin Maguire, assistant national director, environmental health and emergency planning; and Ms Laura Garvey, environment officer, National Office of Tobacco Control. I thank everybody for being present. This is very important legislation, on which we will be hearing in the coming weeks from a wide cross-section of those involved.  

Witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. If they are directed by it to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to do so, they are entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against a person or an entity, by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. I remind members of the long-standing rule of the Chair that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the Houses or an official, by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.
I call on the assistant commissioner to make his opening remarks.
Mr. Derek Byrne: I thank the Chairman and members of the committee for giving me the opportunity to address them. I have a submitted a paper to the secretariat and a submission from An Garda Síochána which I will supplement with some very brief opening comments.
The illegal tobacco industry is a global industry which amasses large amounts of money for organised crime gangs. We look at it in the context of organised crime. From our perspective, it has significant health issues, affects the legitimate labour market, returns to the Exchequer in various countries and legitimate brand holders. It requires a global response involving a multi-agency collaborative approach. I have provided a written submission for the committee, to which I wish to make two amendments, with the Chairman's permission….

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