Ireland: Minister Urged To Resist Big Alcohol Lobbying
Calls on Minister of Health mount to defend Alcohol Bill and to resist alcohol industry lobbying
The Minister for Health has been urged to resist attempts by the alcohol industry to introduce amendments to forthcoming bill on the sale and marketing of alcohol in Ireland.
Independent Senator Frances Black, who chaired the cross party group on the harm caused by alcohol, said she was extremely concerned that Minister of Health Simon Harris might buckle under pressure from some in his own party who have been lobbied by Big Alcohol on the proposed changes.
Just last week, a number of Fine Gael senators expressed concern about aspects of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which was introduced by Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, when he was minister for health. The bill aims to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland by 2020.
In response, Senator Frances Black has warned that new legislation on alcohol must not be diluted by the alcohol industry. The musician and addiction awareness campaigner will host a series of meetings nationwide to galvanise support for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, amid fears that the powerful Irish alcohol industry will be successful in getting some of the proposed measures in the bill watered down.
The legislation aims to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland through measures on pricing, health labelling, advertising and availability.
Ms Black said per The Independent:
The reality is that three people die every day in Ireland due to alcohol-related illnesses.
We simply cannot ignore this any longer, or put industry profit over public health, and I am working tirelessly to get this legislation passed.”
Ms Black said there was a lot of scaremongering surrounding the bill which seeks to address four separate issues – labelling, minimum unit pricing, product separation in retail outlets and marketing and sports sponsorship with opponents of the bill focusing at the moment on product separation.
Ms Black founded the RISE Foundation which works with the families of those with addictive behavior. She was speaking in advance of a visit to Cork, Ireland where she is due to meet a number of groups and NGOs working with those with addiction issues in advance of a public meeting on the new bill.