Royal College of Physicians of Ireland says Passage of Public Health Alcohol Bill is a major step forward to improving health in Ireland

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The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland welcomes the passage of the Public Health Alcohol Bill. RCPI President, Prof Mary Horgan thanked Minister Simon Harris and the Oireachtas members for taking action to address alcohol use in Ireland as a public health issue.

Our College has advocated for this important legislation that can help to ease the frontline pressures on the health service. We know that there are 3 deaths per day due to alcohol use in Ireland that affects too many families and communities. Our unhealthy relationship with alcohol as a society is also putting an unsustainable burden on our health system, with up of 1,500 beds in hospitals taken up every night due to alcohol use, at a time when our health system is struggling to cope.

Professor Mary Horgan

President, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
Prof Frank Murray

Tribute

I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, Prof Frank Murray and the doctors who came together in the RCPI Policy Group on Alcohol. This group reviewed international evidence about how best to tackle unsafe alcohol use as a response to the spike in liver disease and alcohol related illnesses they were seeing in their clinics and who advocated for it. They recommended adopting Minimum Unit Pricing, separation of alcohol within shops, restrictions on advertising and marketing to children and teenagers and health information for consumers which are contained in the Public Health Alcohol Bill that now comes into law in Ireland.

I sincerely thank and congratulate Prof Murray, Prof Joe Barry, Dr Bobby Smyth, Dr Stephen Stewart, Prof Aidan McCormick, Dr Orla Crosbie, Dr Maeve Skelly, Prof Donal O’Shea, Dr Turlough Bolger, Dr Declan Bedford, Dr Thomas Breslin, Dr Blanaid Hayes, Dr Marie Laffoy, Prof Deirdre Murphy, Dr Brian Norton, Dr Kieran O’Shea, Dr Eimear Smith and Prof William Tormey.  

This group have been passionate advocates to improve public health. They made time to enter media debates and to inform the Oireachtas about the extent of the problems and harms they were witnessing and to identify evidence-based solutions in the face of a huge lobby by powerful vested interests.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has a long standing mission to advocate for the health of the nation and we can be proud of our doctors’ role in this landmark legislation.

I also thank Mairead Heffron who worked with the policy group and Siobhán Creaton, Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy, who devised and implemented this successful advocacy campaign for this legislation, supported by Press Officer, Yvonne McCahill.

Professor Mary Horgan

After over 1,000 days it shows that public health can ultimately triumph over vested interests, particularly when civil society unites. Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, established by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and Alcohol Action Ireland was a crucial force in this campaign and the passage of this legislation is a tribute to all of its member organisations.

Ms Siobhán Creaton

Head of Public Affairs and Advocacy at RCPI
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I would like to thank the many Oireachtas members and others who were steadfast supporters of the Public Health Alcohol Bill including, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who introduced the Bill as Health Minister and Minister Simon Harris, Minister Catherine Byrne, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy TD, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and his officials, Micheál Martin TD, Louise O’Reilly TD, Róisín Shortall TD, Stephen Donnelly TD, Billy Kelleher TD, Senator Colm Burke, Senator Frances Black, Senator Catherine Noone, Senator James Reilly and former Senator Jillian Van Turnhout, Alex White and many more.

I also want to thank Alcohol Action Ireland, especially CEO Suzanne Costello, Head of Advocacy, Eunan McKinney and his former colleagues, Catherine Keane and Conor Cullen who joined us to establish Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland, Chaired by Prof Frank Murray.

Ms Siobhán Creaton

The Public Health Alcohol Bill aims to reduce our alcohol consumption as a society with the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol that targets the highest strength alcohol that is currently cheapest to buy. It will also place restrictions on the marketing and promotion of alcohol to protect children and teenagers. It will also reduce the visibility of alcohol in shops to be separated from everyday grocery items and to introduce consumer information on drink products that highlight health risks.

Yvonne McCahill

Press Officer, Communications Department

Tel: +353 1 8639 627 | Mobile 086 7723056

For general press enquiries or if you want to speak to a trusted medical expert, contact Yvonne in our Communications Department.