Submissions invited on Alcohol Bill

Following the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD’s publication of the Heads of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 on February 4th, the draft General Scheme has now been referred to the Joint Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.

As part of this process, the Joint Committee on Health and Children has invited written submissions from interested groups or individuals in relation to its review of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.  

According to a statement from the Houses of the Oireachtas, written submissions should be sent electronically by e-mail (MS Word or equivalent) to be received not later than 3pm on March 5th 2015 at the following e-mail address only:

“Submissions and communications should only be sent to the e-mail address above and not to individual members of the Committee,” continues the guidance note, “Please note that the Clerk will ensure that all members of the Committee receive, in due course, copies of all submissions and communications received.  To avoid confusion and duplication, please do not forward hard copies of submissions made electronically.The text of the General Scheme for the legislation can be accessed on the Department of Health’s website.

“It is essential that submissions are concise and to the point,” states the guidance note, “They should not contain any unnecessary material that does not relate directly to the General Scheme and should be confined to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015.  If reference is made to other publications, a link to this publication is sufficient – please do not send these references as separate attachments.”

“In a separate document from your electronic submission, please include a covering letter outlining in brief why you are making a submission.

“The covering letter should include your name, your postal address, e-mail address and contact telephone number. You should also indicate in your letter if you would be prepared to appear in public session at any Committee meeting.

The Committee will consider all suitable written submissions received and may decide to invite a number of contributors to public hearings should it be considered necessary.”

The Heads of the Bill provide for health labeling on alcohol products as well as Minimum Unit Pricing and legislation to cover the marketing and advertising of alcohol products.

“The issue of alcohol misuse has been a longstanding priority for the Committee and we are of the view there is no single measure which will solve the problem,” commented Committee Chairman Jerry Buttimer TD, “Rather, a package of measures is needed to change our attitudes towards and behaviour regarding the consumption of alcohol. The Heads of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, published last week, have been described by Minister Varadkar as most the far-reaching yet to curb the misuse of alcohol, while other voices have criticised the measures for not going far enough.

“As legislators with the responsibility in this area, it’s important that we engage carefully with the wider public to listen to a broad spectrum of views on the draft legislation.

“On foot of this public process, the Committee will publish a report on the legislation, which will be furnished to the Minister for consideration when drafting the Bill which will be presented to the Dáil and Seanad.”

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