80,000 signatures for petition against Alcohol Bill

Vincent Jennings of the CSNA presents a petition of 80,000 signatures to the Dáil amid the Alcohol Bill debate
Vincent Jennings of the CSNA presents a petition of 80,000 signatures to the Dáil amid the Alcohol Bill debate

While the Alcohol Bill was debated in the Oireachtas this week, the CSNA presented a petition of 80,000 signatures protesting the controversial Bill, which many groups say is unworkable and will not have the government's desired effect.

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10 November 2017 | 0

A petition organized by the CSNA gathered over 80,000 customer signatures urging for amendments to be made to Section 20 of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill this week.

The CSNA called on all Senators and TDs not to allow the bill to pass as it is currently drafted, and to consider implementing amendments proposed by Senator Keith Swanick which remove the provision for structural separation. Several representative organisations has statted that the measure is prohibitively costly and shows no evidence of having the desired effect.

Minister Simon Harris last week published amendments that state that small stores will now be allowed to have two small units (with a combined storage capacity of no more than one cubic metre and a depth of no more than 25cm) to display alcohol. However, the CSNA said these amendments do not go far enough to protect the majority of stores in Ireland.

“The new amendments will only be of help to less than 5% of retail outlets in Ireland,” said CSNA CEO Vincent Jennings. “This proposal does not cover the needs of a huge proportion of the small and medium sized retail sector who must still create a separate space for alcohol in their stores.

“So far, our sector has not been approached for consultation on the provisions laid out in Section 20 of the Bill by the Department,” Jennings added. “This is unacceptable.

“The fact is that our concerns as small and medium sized retailers in the country – a sector that employs 50,000 people in Ireland – have not been considered here.”

The CSNA has expressed that it would like to see amendments tabled by Senator Keith Swanick, which they consider to be compromise amendments. Rather than see complete visual separation, alcohol would be separated by means of a physical barrier (such as a turn-style), but will not require complete removal of the product from public view.

“We do not wish to tear down this bill,” Jennings continued. “Our only objection is to the current provision of the bill that requires the removal of visibility of alcohol products in our stores. I hope that the significant number of signatures we have collected will encourage the Minister Harris to take this seriously and to be open to a discussion on this extremely important matter.”

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