Independent Senator Frances Black is holding a series of open public meetings on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, beginning on Sunday September 10th in the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork from 7.30-9pm. The meetings will bring together health experts, campaigners and community groups to outline how the bill can change Irelands harmful relationship with alcohol, and give citizens a chance to have their say to elected representatives.
Introduced by then Minister for Health Leo Varadkar in 2015, the bill aims to reduce alcohol consumption and related harms through measures on advertising, availability, pricing and health labeling. See more information via Alcohol Action Ireland here. Though it has been supported by a range of medical experts and practitioners, it has raised controversy and concerns over industry sales and revenue.
Senator Black said: “As an addiction counselor and founder of the RISE Foundation, I have seen the devastating impact of alcohol misuse on families and communities across Ireland. The reality is that three people die every day in Ireland due to alcohol-related illnesses. It costs the state €2.3bn annually, takes up 1500 hospital beds every night, and puts a huge strain on mental health services. We cannot ignore this any longer, or put industry profit over public health, and I am working tirelessly to get this legislation passed.”
Health Minister Simon Harris this week reiterated his support for the bill and insisted it will be reintroduced to the Seanad in the Autumn, but hinted that amendments may be made to reflect industry concerns. Senator Black said: “Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told me personally he strongly supports the bill, as has Minister Harris. I’m concerned however that it may end up being diluted. To be effective we need this bill passed in its entirety, and get people together to voice their concerns, whatever they may be.”
The first in a series of public meetings will be held next week in Cork to call for action on alcohol harm and mobilise support for the bill. “We have invited every councillor, TD and Senator in the Cork area to attend the meeting, to hear from health experts, community groups and their constituents. In advance, I’ll be meeting with local drug and alcohol services, UCC researchers and medical experts, Students Unions, and supportive organisations like the ISPCC, Pieta House, Tabor Lodge, and the Suicide Research Foundation. We need all those concerned about alcohol harm in Ireland to have their say, and all are welcome to attend” said Senator Black.
Every member of the public is welcome on Sunday 10th September in the Rochestown Park Hotel. For any questions, please feel free to call 01 6183279.