Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Alcohol and Drugs strategy demonstrates disjointed and uncoordinated nature of Direct Rule

8 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson John O'Dowd has said that Direct Rule is 'all over the place' over how to develop a co-ordinated alcohol and drugs strategy.

In an initial response to the public consultation document entitled 'New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs' Mr O'Dowd said:

"This is a classic example of the contradictory, disjointed and uncoordinated of Direct Rule in the Six Counties.

"Last week the consultation on the Review of Liquor Licensing closed. It contained proposals, which if implemented, will lead to greater availability of alcohol, longer openings hours for licensed premises, and a massive increase in the number and type of premises licensed to sell alcohol. Yet, the European Alcohol Action Plan has recommended that EU member states should control the availability of alcohol by restricting or at keeping in check the number of outlets where alcohol is sold, by limiting the number of
licences and by restricting hours or days of sale.

"The proposals put forward by David Hanson in the liquor licensing consultation run contrary to that recommended action. The truth is that the recent proposals to amend licensing legislation, primarily to increase competition, will result in greater numbers and types of outlets selling alcohol.

"While Shaun Woodward may claim that the proposals were designed to develop
a co-ordinated and integrated approach to tackling the twin issues of
alcohol and drug misuse many people will view this with a degree of surprise
and disbelief.

"NIO ministers Shaun Woodward and David Hanson, and the civil servants who work for them, should at least try to speak to one another when they are attempting to draw up policies or talk about 'co-ordinated and integrated' approaches. Surely these two ministers must be aware of the total inconsistencies and contradictions contained in the positions being adopted by their respective departments. This approach is all over the place.

"Public health policies concerning alcohol should be formulated by public health interests, without interference from commercial or other interests. It is for that reason that we believe that, within any future Executive, overall responsibility for introducing and implementing legislation governing alcohol licensing and control should be transferred to a future locally elected and locally accountable Minister of Health." ENDS

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