Public Health (Alcohol) Bill must be prioritised - Louise O'Reilly TD
Speaking exactly a year since the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill started Committee stage in the Seanad, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said the Government and its Fianna Fáil colleagues need to stop dragging their heels and to show political leadership to ensure the swift passage of the Bill.
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“Almost two years ago the Public Health Alcohol Bill first entered the Seanad, and one year ago to the day it began at Committee stage in the Upper House. However, upon starting Committee stage it has been met by a barrage of subterfuge and filibustering.
“In that time, lives have been lost, untold damage has been done to the fabric and economy of Ireland, and our health system has been ravaged by alcohol related harms. This is not sustainable.
“TDs, Senators, and industry lobbyists resistant to the Bill can no longer continue the discourse on whether the Bill and its measures are necessary. The realities of alcohol related harms have moved to demonstrate that not only is this Bill necessary, but it is flagrantly irresponsible to delay its passage any longer.
“Politicians can no longer stand in the Oireachtas and make impassioned pleas on the issues of mental health, suicide, overcrowded emergency departments or chronic disease, when vital public health legislation is being demonstrably blocked by the sustained lobbying interests of a powerful industry lobby.
“We heard of the importance of the Bill from the Alcohol Health Alliance this week and from Mr John Higgins who made a powerful impassioned plea on social media and on the radio.
“Change in the name of public health is never easy, is always met with opposition but is always worth it- lest we forget changes to tobacco laws or on wearing seatbelts? But that is our role as legislators- to make the tough decisions that are going to benefit society. We cannot abdicate that responsibility.
“The Government and its Fianna Fáil colleagues need to stop dragging their heels and to show political leadership to ensure the swift passage of the Bill.
"Well-meaning statements from TDs or Senators will not affect change - they must be backed by votes of support for this Bill and I hope when this Bill resumes, we get that support from those in every party and none.”