Please note: This submission is a response to an open call from the Department of Justice in their review of alcohol licensing.
The College of Psychiatrists remains very concerned by the extent of alcohol related harm in Ireland. Along with many other stakeholders in the Alcohol Health Alliance, across the health, youth and community sectors, it has advocated for public health to be given primacy in all aspects of alcohol policy in Ireland. The College welcomes the arrival of the Public Health Alcohol Act (PHAA) in 2019.
The PHAA had its origins in the report of the Steering group on a National Substance Misuse Strategy published in 2012 (Dept of Health, 2012). That group included alcohol industry representation, and their involvement caused huge delays in the production of recommendations. Seven years later the PHAA was passed in the Dail. The hope was that it marked a watershed moment indicating that government now shared our view that alcohol should be viewed primarily through the lens of public health. It is a source of frustration that now in 2022, over three years later, key elements of the PHAA remain to be enacted.
The College recognises the system of licensing for sale of alcohol is complex and needs review. Of note is the report by the Taskforce of the Night-time Economy. It is disappointing to see that there was no input from groups with public health expertise into that report and it is worrying that that oversight indicates a step back by Government from a public health approach to alcohol. However, the fact that in this call for consultation, the Department of Justice has placed emphasis on public health is very welcome.