A strong case for the need for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill
Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland says Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Prof. Geoffrey Shannon’s comments to an Oireachtas Committee makes a strong case for the need for the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill
Prof Shannon appeared yesterday, Wednesday, 28th June, before the Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs to discuss issues arising from the Audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of the Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Shannon’s commented on his hopes for a broad government response to his report:
…. what this report does demonstrates is how corrosive alcohol is, and what we see is that the biggest challenge facing society is the adverse consequences for the welfare of many children posed by alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse, are key features of this report, and have a very damaging effect on children, and the failure by society to address alcohol as a fundamental problem, places insurmountable burdens on the child protection system, so it’s not just about Tusla or the Gardai. It’s about society, and our ambivalence to alcohol and substance misuse.”
The audit highlighted numerous cases, where it was evident that alcohol abuse was a significant factor. Additionally, the audit also reported individual cases where the child removed were themselves under the influence of alcohol.
Reacting to Prof Shannon’s contribution, AHA Chair, Prof Frank Murray said: “These disturbing findings further highlight the impact of alcohol related harms on our children, and the need to implement measures that can protect children from such harms. We support Prof Geoffrey Shannon’s call for the Government to ‘step up to the plate’ in terms of taking on vested interests and saying ‘enough is enough’. Children deserve to be protected and that is the job of legislators”.
It is our strong belief that the measures within the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, when taken together, will provide a reasonable, pragmatic means to achieving the ambition of this progressive public health initiative – namely to protect children, to ease the pressure on our health services and make for a healthier and more productive society for everyone” Prof Murray said.
For over 500 days the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill – a progressive piece of legislation designed to significantly and positively alter Ireland’s harmful relationship with alcohol – has languished in the Oireachtas and faced inordinate delay.
The Bill contains a range of measures designed to work together to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland so reducing alcohol related harm. It will protect children, families and communities from alcohol related harms and create an environment that supports a low risk approach to individual consumption.