Statement from Drinks Industry representative body (ABFI) re the launch of Cross Party Oireachtas Group on Alcohol Misuse in Leinster House today

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Statement from Kathryn D’Arcy, Director, Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland:

4th March 2014: “The only way we can address the issue of alcohol misuse is by having a whole of society approach. As alcohol manufactures and suppliers, we want to see our products consumed correctly and not misused.

“While we welcome the interest of the Deputies in attendance today in the issue of tackling alcohol misuse, the continued refusal of members of an anti-drinks industry lobby to engage with the sector to enable a solution-based approach to alcohol misuse is obtuse, wrong-headed and narrow-minded.

“There are 62,000 people employed in this sector.

“The vast majority of Irish people consume alcohol in a manner that is entirely compatible with a healthy lifestyle.

“In the last month we’ve written twice to the Department of Health – they have refused to engage with us.

“We have requested that industry could participate in a key Alcohol Conference being hosted by Alcohol Forum, they declined to allow us to participate.

“And today we see the announcement of an informal, all-party group seeking to progress legislation and policy that can help reduce alcohol harm in Ireland, with a particular emphasis on the Public Health Alcohol Bill, again with no suggestion of dialogue with the sector.

“We’re now in the implementation phase of the Alcohol Bill. Without getting the views and support from all relevant parties, including the social organisations, publicans, off-licences and supplier companies, government will not be able to credibly implement the proposals.

“Minister Reilly, Minister White and their officials must engage with the industry. We’ve a lot in common. We don’t want misuse of our product. We both have the same objective but come at it from different view-points.

“As stated, this industry employs 62,000 people. Policy decisions effect their future. Those who propose policies in a vacuum would do well to remember this.
“Only by all parties coming together to address misuse can we hope to effect the necessary societal change that will ensure that abuse of this product is not acceptable.

“We must have greater alignment if this is going to happen. Excluding industry from the debate is wrong.”

ENDS

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