Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Question 127 – Regulatory impact assessments [Alcohol Bill] [18239/24].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Question 127 – Regulatory impact assessments [Alcohol Bill] [18239/24]. (24 Apr 2024)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2024...

127. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice when a health impact assessment will be carried out in respect of the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2022; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18239/24]

Helen McEntee, Minister for Justice: The General Scheme of the Sale of Alcohol Bill intends to modernise our existing licensing laws in line with the expectations and needs of today’s society, and to encourage the development of a modern and diverse night-time economy.

The proposed legislation endeavours to strike a balance between maintaining strict controls and safeguards in relation to the sale of alcohol, while providing support to those involved in our night time economy.

Given the known social and health effects associated with misuse of alcohol, Ireland has, for many decades, operated a restrictive regime for licencing. The General Scheme of the Bill retains that approach and will ensure that the sale of alcohol remains closely regulated.

Throughout the development of the Bill, my Department engaged in an extensive consultation process with representative bodies in the licensed trade, businesses, public health bodies and advocacy groups, consumers and communities in relation to the proposed legislation.

A public consultation, including an online survey and a request for submissions, ran from November 2021 until January 2022. More than 5,000 responses were received. These included responses from Alcohol Action Ireland; Ballymun Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force; The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland; The Health Service Executive Alcohol Programme; Institute of Public Health; Irish Community Action on Alcohol Network and National Suicide Research Foundation.

In addition, a webinar and panel discussion event was held on 10 March 2022. The consultation process demonstrated that there is a strong demand for reform and modernisation of the law in this area.

I can assure the Deputy that public health is a factor for my Department when considering the introduction of reforms with regard to the sale of alcohol. As part of the overall process, my Department continues to engage with various public and voluntary health bodies on any potential health implications as the Bill progresses.

It is my intention to separate the Sale of Alcohol Bill into two Bills. Firstly, I intend to introduce the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2024. This is a shorter Bill to introduce a number of key reforms contained in the Sale of Alcohol Bill 2022 to modernise our licensing system, including:-  

  • The standardisation of opening hours for pubs and off-licences.
  • The introduction of an annual late bar permit and an annual nightclub permit.
  • The inclusion of new grounds of objection in line with the Zero Tolerance Third National Strategy to Tackle Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence.
  • Strengthening of the powers of An Garda Síochána to ensure that public safety and order are maintained.
  • To provide that licensing applications, which are currently heard in the Circuit Court, will move to the District Court.
  • The inclusion of the provision for outdoor seating. 

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