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Ó Snodaigh gives guarded welcome to Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2008

26 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2008. However Deputy Ó Snodaigh was critical of the Government's failure to act on recommendations made by the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol in 2004. Deputy Ó Snodaigh went on to call for the establishment of Local Licensing Fora to play a key role in licensing decisions and for mandatory training with accreditation for bouncers and bar staff.

He said, "While welcoming this Bill on behalf of Sinn Féin, I would like to put on the record our disappointment at the unjustifiable failure of the government to act on most of the 100 recommendations made by the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol which reported in 2004. The modus operandi of the Fianna Fáil/PD and now Green government has been to long-finger action by commissioning report after report and then failing to implement the expert recommendations. In the mean time the availability of alcohol has increased at a pace unseen before.

"Alcohol abuse is a major contributing factor to anti-social behaviour, assaults, incidents of criminal damage, domestic violence and is often involved in murder. Yet last year the total number of off licenses issued in the 26 counties was 4,261 - 320 more than the previous year. That's almost one additional premises selling alcohol per day. This sharp increase in licensed premises has made policing the sale of alcohol almost impossible.

"Sinn Féin is in favour of the liberalisation of licensing laws towards European models involving flexible opening and closing times to prevent drink-related disorder. We also promote the involvement of local authorities and communities in the liquor licensing process. To this end, Local Licensing Fora should be introduced including elected representatives, statutory authorities, licensed trade representatives, community representatives, and other stakeholders such as those involved in addiction services.

"These Local Licensing Fora would have a key role to play in the deciding the number and type of outlets where alcohol can be sold, the number of licenses granted and the hours and days of sale.

"We would also like to see provisions for mandatory training with a accreditation of bouncers, bar staff and others involved in the sale of alcohol inserted into this Bill.

"As I said earlier, I welcome this Bill but it should not be inflated or depicted by government representatives as something more than what it is - a very modest initiative of limited value in the absence of robust action and enforcement." ENDS

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