Intoxicating Liquor Bill, 1988: Second Stage (Resumed).

Thursday, 2 June 1988

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 119 No. 18

First Page Previous Page Page of 4 Next Page Last Page

[1954] Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. O'Callaghan: Information on Vivian OCallaghan  Zoom on Vivian OCallaghan  I was referring last week to the problem of under-age drinking. I welcome the Minister's initiative in this regard. The consideration of identity cards is welcome and the modus operandi suggested by the Minister is also welcome because we are all aware that young people would resist in a significant way the requirement of mandatory identification cards. The industry should consider introducing some form of regularised identification for addressing the problem of under-age drinking. As I said last week, it is one of the great crises confronting this country at present. It is not the sole function of publicans to ensure that the young people do not drink before they are allowed to do so by law. It is the greater responsibility of parents. That needs to be encompassed in this Bill in some way. If a publican and the under-age person transgressing the regulations are to be prosecuted, there must be some responsibility on parents to ensure that they make reasonable efforts to establish where their young people are at a given time of the day or night.

On the vexed question of the special restaurant licences, there is general agreement that there was a requirement that restaurants should be licensed. With the substantial increase in international travel, people have become quite used to going to a restaurant at a reasonably late time in the evening and have alcoholic beverages with their meal. This is reasonable and the Minister has addressed the subject in a reasonable way. However, there is considerable concern still being expressed by people in the liquor trade that there is ample scope for abuse of this restaurant licence. The Minister would need to be very emphatic in his response, particularly in regard to concern being expressed by the trade that this licence can be abused. The Minister might indicate the rationale on which this legislation was based. We appear to be stating that, [1955] if a restaurant is in a certain strata or of a certain quality, it is permissible for the restaurant owner to apply for a licence to sell alcohol. I am not entirely happy about how these criteria are applied. I am aware that there is an input by Bord Fáilte.

The general understanding is that people desire to consume drink with their substantial evening meal in a scheduled restaurant where it is permissible for them to do so. I am still not happy. Somebody in the legal profession could test this in court and state that it is equally valid for somebody who frequents a restaurant which is not of the quality deemed by Bord Fáilte to respond to this legislation, to consume alcohol. It is their main evening meal and it is their entitlement, as citizens of this State, to require an alcoholic beverage with their meal, whether it consists of a cordon bleu meal, or chicken and chips. This would make for interesting testing in the courts at a later date. The Minister should endeavour to satisfy us that that protection is very substantially written into the Bill.

Concern has been expressed regarding the waiting area and the designation of the dining versus the licensed area. That will have to be clearly defined in the Bill, so that we will not find in four or five years time that we have just introduced another tier of pubs.

The level of the fines is still much too high. It is sometimes quite difficult, despite the best efforts of publicans, to clear the house at the appropriate time. The responsibility firmly rests with the publican. He must clear his bar within the scheduled time, or he is responsible. It is quite in order for a garda to come on the premises and to ask why he has not cleared his premises. Then he has to go to court and satisfy the district justice that he made a reasonable effort to clear the house. It is a matter of interpretation at that stage whether he was taking reasonable steps to clear the pub. If he does not convince the district justice that he was taking reasonable steps to clear the pub, he could be fined a substantial sum of money. When you contrast that [1956] against the fine which could be imposed on the person who was refusing to leave, or was not making any great effort to leave, there is a serious anomaly. The responsibility is being placed almost totally on the publican. We are aware that in the main the publican is making reasonable efforts to clear premises at the correct time.

I would like to touch on the whole business of registered clubs. If I had to pick the most welcome part of the Bill I would focus on this aspect of it. If ever legisation was overdue to confront a particular problem, this is it. I presume it is a sizeable problem in the larger urban areas. Certainly in rural towns it was causing a serious problem in the industry because many clubs were operating bars at all sorts of extraordinary times of the day and night without any hindrance. They could not be inspected by a garda. A special order had to be issued by an inspector or a superintendent and the garda could only visit the club with his documentation, which was not very practical at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.

Nobody has any objection to a club having a licensed area for their members. One only has to pick up any provincial newspaper any weekend to see practically every club advertising public functions, without any hindrance from anybody. Of course, they are in total breach of the existing licensing arrangements. I am pleased that the Minister has sought to address this subject. It is now incumbent upon clubs to ensure that their houses are in order. I instanced an example in an earlier debate of one athletic sporting type club which made a profit of £80,000 last year, all expenses paid. This was a club run by the members. It had no staff. One can only presume that this was taken out of the local economy, that the local licensed trade could reasonably have expected to earn it for themselves.

It is no wonder the licensed trade is in such a stagnant condition when you have a virtual network of amateur organisations feeding off the centre of it at the time. There is a need for this legislation to be implemented with great speed to [1957] ensure that there is a reasonable distribution of trade. I am a member of many of these clubs. I was a founder member of clubs which got licences. Slowly but surely you have this gradual erosion of regulations and it becomes virtually an extra pub without the constraints placed on ordinary publicans.

The Minister, by and large, has achieved a fair balance. Members have already brought to his attention the concern being expressed by people in the hotel industry about anomalies which have crept in regarding the requirements of late night exemptions for Saturday and Sunday nights. There are two distinct problems. There is a definite demand. The pattern has changed and many people attend Church on a Saturday evening now rather than on a Sunday. The whole focus of late night entertainment has changed very definitely to Saturday. In relation to Sunday, under the proposed legislation a pub or a hotel bar can stay open until 11 o'clock on a Sunday night and there is half an hour drinking up time. Any hotels operating dance licences with late night drinking facilities then have to close for 30 minutes before they can re-open again at midnight. There is a serious anomaly there. It will pose great administrative difficulties for hoteliers trying effectively to ask their customers to stop drinking, guillotine like, at 11.30, all glasses and paraphernalia to be taken away and reintroduced at 12 o'clock. There is an anomaly there and it will create serious difficulties for the people trying to operate the system on the ground. I would ask the Minister to look at this problem again. Other Members will be addressing the vexed subject of the Saturday night exemption and I will leave that to them.

In Senator McGowan's area there are serious anomalies cropping up. New legislation has been implemented which is causing a serious imbalance in the Border areas in relation to the licensed trade. I will leave that to people who are more seriously affected than I am.

The Minister has grappled with a very [1958] difficult subject and, by and large, he has achieved a very good balance. I welcome particularly his addressing the problem of registered clubs. That certainly needs to be taken in hand as a matter of priority. A reasonable mixture has been achieved and if we could get some resolution of the problem of exemptions at weekends, it could be regarded as an absolute success.

Mr. Kennedy: Information on Patrick Kennedy  Zoom on Patrick Kennedy  I welcome this Bill. As other speakers have indicated, it has a number of very important objectives. They are (1) the introduction of a new concept into our intoxicating liquor laws, namely, a special restaurant licence which will enable good quality restaurants, which meet exacting requirements and standards, to serve a full range of drinks to anyone who has ordered a substantial meal: (2) to amend the provisions regarding the prohibited times; (3) to make certain provisions regarding the important question of under-age drinking; (4) to amend the provisions, as Senator O'Callaghan has indicated, regarding registered clubs; and (5) to increase the fines in respect of certain offences relating to licensed premises and registered clubs.

The existing legislation on intoxicating liquor is very extensive and complex. There are about 40 separate licensing Acts, dating back to the Licensing Act, 1833. The last major piece of legislation in this area was the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1962. Most people would agree that it is timely, and indeed opportune, to review some of the more important aspects of this legislation. I am pleased to note also that the Minister has indicated that a further review of important areas is now being undertaken and will be incorporated in future legislation.

In putting forward proposals for amendment of the licensing laws I think it is important, as other speakers have indicated, to maintain a balanced approach. The task of the Legislature is to get the balance right. The licensing laws are concerned with the number and nature of licensed outlets, the persons to be licensed, the times at which drink can [1959] be sold and, of course, the person to whom drink can be sold.

This Bill is a comprehensive Bill divided into six parts. Part I deals with preliminary and general matters. Section 1 contains the Short Title. Section 3 contains the usual citation and construction clauses. Section 2 defines such important terms as bar, licence and licensed premises. Part II, sections 5 to 24, makes detailed provisions for the granting of this new special restaurant licence.

Section 12 in particular is most important in that it empowers the Minister for Tourism and Transport to make specific regulations prescribing exacting standards to be met by restaurants before a licence may be issued. The effect of these regulations will be to ensure — and this is most important — that only restaurants of good standard, high quality, will qualify for these licences. It is important to emphasise that the special restaurant licence is a restrictive licence. It does not permit drink to be sold in the same way as in a public bar. Furthermore, it is important to emphasise that it is not intended that these special restaurant licences should unfairly affect the legitimate commercial interests of the existing licensed trade which has served the people down through the years with magnificent dedication. The vintners deserve to be complimented for the wide range of community support and charitable support that they have given to the people of this country.

Section 7 provides that drink may be sold on foot of a special restaurant licence only in connection with the ordering of a substantial meal (1) in the waiting area of the restaurant before the meal, (2) in the dining area during the meal, or (3) up to 30 minutes after the meal has ended. In addition, there are detailed procedures for obtaining one of these special restaurant licences. The combined effect of sections 6, 8 and 9 is that where it is desired to obtain one of these licences application is first made to Bord Fáilte for a certificate. They will obviously set out the standards and will issue that certificate only if they are satisfied that these [1960] exacting requirements and standards set by the Minister for Tourism have been met. When, and only when, this certificate has been obtained from Bord Fáilte, application must then be made to the Circuit Court for its certificate; and if and when the Circuit Court decides to issue this certificate it is only then that, in fact, the special restaurant licence can be obtained from the Revenue Commissioners — and that on payment of a once-off initial fee of £3,000. This is a reasonable demand for people who make application for this licence. It is also important to emphasise that a special restaurant licence is reviewable annually. Any member of the public can object in the District Court to the renewal of these licences, as they can indeed to the renewal of other licences.

Section 10 also provides that the local Garda superintendent may, in addition to any other ground of objection available to him, object to the renewal of these special licences on the ground that the premises have not been bona fide and solely used as a restaurant. There is a combination of restrictions there that are adequate in this area.

Furthermore, section 14, as amended in the Dáil, will allow drink to be supplied on foot of a special restaurant licence on weekdays between 12.30 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. and on Sundays from 12.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on Christmas Day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. I think these times are very reasonable.

Section 16 also provides that restaurant premises may not contain a bar, may not contain a counter or anything that resembles a bar. Finally, in regard to Part II of the Bill, these special licensed restaurants will be subject to the ordinary enforcement provisions of the licensing laws. In addition, section 15 provides for a maximum fine of £500 for contravention of the terms of the licence and for mandatory endorsement of the licence itself. Part III of the Bill, sections 25 to 29, deals with the permitted hours for the sale of intoxicating liquor on licensed premises generally. Closing hours, I believe adopted in the Intoxicating [1961] Liquor Acts of 1960 and 1962, have indeed stood the test of time remarkably well but they obviously require some refinement and some adjustment to meet the requirements of the present day.

I welcome the provision in the Bill which provides as follows: weekday closing will remain unchanged; the drinking up time will be extended from ten minutes to 30 minutes. This means that during summertime the latest time for serving drink will continue to be 11.30 p.m. but the premises must be closed by 12 o'clock. During the rest of the year last drinks will still be served up to 11 p.m., and the premises must be cleared by 11.30. With regard to Sunday evenings — and I think the proposal in the Bill is most satisfactory — the Bill provides that Sunday closings in licensed premises and in clubs should be 11 p.m. with 30 minutes drinking up time. I share the concern of many of the speakers here and, indeed in the other House and of many people in the country, about the granting by the District Courts of special exemptions for what are called Monday mornings. I welcome the provisions, therefore, in section 29 of the Bill which provides that special exemptions may not be granted for any time after 1 a.m. on Monday.

Part IV of the Bill, sections 30 to 39, contains provisions relating to persons under the age of 18. This matter has been amply dealt with by speakers in this House and, indeed, by speakers in the other House. Therefore, I do not intend to delay the House on this matter. However, I hope that these important provisions will have the necessary impact and that they will help to curb and alleviate the growing problem of under-age drinking.

Under section 40 the Minister for Justice is empowered to introduce by regulation a system for the issue of what are called age cards to persons requesting them showing that these persons are over 18 years of age. This is not a mandatory requirement; it could not be a mandatory requirement; it is totally voluntary. This general system and the nature of the regulation that will be made would require further discussions between the [1962] Minister and the various interests, including the licensed trade. I hope this system, if and when it is brought into operation by the Minister for Justice, will be effective as an aid in combating under-age drinking.

Part V of the Bill proposes a number of changes in relation to registered clubs. Section 42 makes it clear that club rules must forbid the supply of drink to persons under 18 years of age. Section 43 of the Bill will allow clubs to be inspected by any member of the Garda Síochána on the same basis as licensed premises. This is a welcome proposal. Finally, Part VI of the Bill proposes to increase a number of penalties under the licensing laws and under the Registration of Clubs Acts where the level of fines has fallen out of line with current monetary values. I would also like to support the point made by Senator O'Callaghan regarding the problem of hotels and I am sure the Minister will be open for discussions on that matter.

I would like, therefore, to welcome the main proposals in this Bill. I hope the Bill will be successful and that the Minister for Justice will be successful in achieving the objectives set out in the Bill. There are a number of improvements that could be made. I understood from the Minister's opening speech that, in fact, he is open to constructive suggestions and possible amendments and I am sure those of us who are anxious to do so will have discussions with the Minister and perhaps this Bill can be further improved.

Mr. Bohan: Information on Eddie Bohan  Zoom on Eddie Bohan  It is sometimes the case that laws providing for a certain set of circumstances do not or, perhaps, cannot fully comprehend or keep up with the changes that are taking place in our society. The Bill before the House today is a case in point. In outlining an updated set of regulations especially in relation to clubs, this Bill seeks to bring order into an area where up to now there has been a great deal of legal anomaly and even unfairness. If only for the reason that the Bill seeks to streamline and co-ordinate the various regulations concerning the sale of drink in public houses, clubs and [1963] restaurants. I warmly welcome it. However, this Bill goes much further because it sets out a number of provisions dealing with the problem of under-age drinking. To say that in recent years this has become a worrying problem would be an under-statement. It is also a sensitive problem and I applaud the Minister's determination to confront it.

As regards the technical aspects of the Bill, I would like to consider them under two headings, first, those which affect restaurants and clubs and, secondly, those which affect publicans. This is not to draw distinctions because, if anything, new regulations should aim to be uniform in both the letter and the application of the law to the various branches of the licensed trade. I welcome the Minister's proposal to avoid distinctions, especially following the changes which have been sponsored in the Dáil and to which I will refer later on.

Part II of the Bill provides for a new type of licence, the special restaurant licence. I understand the reasoning behind this provision, that restaurants should be in a position to offer a full range of liquor and substantial meals. I also appreciate its importance in the interests of tourism. In this connection I am glad to note that no special licences will be issued unless the Minister for Tourism and Transport is satisfied as to the standards. However, I hope that this proposed system will not be abused. I welcome the assurance the Minister gave last week in this House that the granting of such a licence does not envisage the selling of drink in the same way as in public houses. I hope this will be so in fact.

Therefore, I hope the waiting area of restaurants will be available only to those customers who are genuinely waiting for a meal. In order to ensure this I would welcome a system whereby payment for drinks consumed in a waiting area would be added to the general bill rather than separately. Similarly, there should be no abuse after the meal. There is a need to control the area in which drink is sold and consumed in premises holding a special [1964] restaurant licence. There is also a need to control the potential expansion of the licensed area. This, I believe, can only be achieved by requiring all applications for a special restaurant licence to be accompanied by a map designating the only area where alcohol can be sold and consumed. I hope the proposed regulations in this regard will be seen to be implemented.

With regard to regulations governing clubs, I welcome the proposals of the Bill. Over the past several years it seems to me that there has been no sense or order in the way in which clubs have been run. Each club seems to have behaved like an independent republic with its own conventions and its own method of management and business. I am glad to see that the days of peephole doors are coming to an end. Clubs must be governed by the same rules and regulations which affect public houses and this, at the very least, means they should be subject to the same Garda scrutiny and inspection as at present applies to public houses. In the past there was the ludicrous situation where a certificate to serve drink could be awarded to a club on the basis of having 25 paid up members. Senators know the old saying that the law is an ass. It that is true — and it most definitely applies in this case — I am glad to see that the Minister has increased the new qualification for club membership from 25 to 150. While I welcome this, I would like to have it tightened even further by proposing a qualification of 250.

Section 45 sets out a number of provisions dealing with the advertisement of club facilities, especially for late night drinking. It has often been said that this area has been subject to a great deal of abuse; but I am glad to see that it is proposed to reassert both the letter and the spirit of club membership by confining advertisements to the membership by means of a circular letter to the club members. The fines proposed in this section are to be welcomed not only in their own right but because of the way in which the whole system of fines is being applied. From now on each member of a club committee will be liable if the law is [1965] broken, and this is as it should be. There must be no distinction between the management of a club and the management of a public house in regard to the breaking of the law. If the law is broken, those who infringe it should be duly brought to account. However, the exclusion of members of the Garda from club committees will ensure that there will be no grey areas in the event of clubs being called to account before the law.

However, having said that, it seems that under the proposed regulations restaurants will have a greater degree of freedom than that allowed to publicans. This is especially so in relation to drinking-up time. For example, the special restaurant licence allows an extra one and a half hours, until 2.30 a.m., while a mere 30 minutes is allowed to the publican. Of course, I welcome the fact that the Minister has recognised the problems which publicans sometimes have in clearing their houses. However, I would suggest that even the proposed 30 minutes is hardly an adequate time to clear the house, especially in the larger houses. For publicans this is a vital point, especially in view of the increased fines for those caught on premises after the prescribed hours.

There are two points which I wish to make here. First, I would make the proposal that we might usefully examine the system at present in use in Great Britain where the publican stops serving at a certain time, places towels over the pumps and allows his customers to finish their drinks at leisure. Not only does this take the onus off the publican but it allows the customer a reasonable and comfortable opportunity to enjoy his drink. In saying this I wish to stress that the drink should be served only within the prescribed hours, as the Bill proposes. If anybody is caught serving after those hours he or she should be liable for the penalties proposed. However, my point is that it is asking a lot from the publican to ask him to herd his customers out the door within 30 minutes as if they were a flock of sheep, especially in view of the fact that the restaurant owner is given far greater leeway. I would ask the Minister [1966] to consider this question of drinking-up time and the real problems it poses and will continue to pose for publicans who run large premises.

While regard to the maximum fine elements, I believe they are too high and, while they may be reasonable for the larger houses, the vast majority of pubs in Ireland are small family run houses and a fine of £300 would be a very severe burden on them. I ask the Minister to consider seriously having another look at this section.

The question of large and busy premises is also relevant in relation to the operation of the proposed ID cards. The problem which the introduction of ID cards proposes to address — under-age drinking — is, as I said already, a very sensitive area and I welcome the Minister's courage in dealing with it. I do not support publicans who serve under-age drinkers and, while the number is not great, I am glad that some initial steps have been taken to deal with the problem. However, as with the question of drinking-up time, the burden is again placed on the publican. It is as if the publican is to be turned into a type of policeman. I do not mind this up to a point. Any public servant or person operating in a public area must have his responsibilities to the public. However, on a busy night how is a barman expected to scrutinise, and indeed verify, the authenticity of an identity document?

I would like to mention the constructive and realistic approach which the Opposition spokesman has taken, and it is a mark of the openness of this Government that a number of his amendments have been agreed to by the Minister. I know the Minister was aware of this problem and, accordingly, deleted the word “knowingly” from the original Bill. However, no ID system can be completely foolproof. Aside from the question of forgeries there is the question of scrutinisation. I would be worried that publicans could be exposed to fines and penalties for being obliged to be a party to a system, which in itself requires a great deal of individual attention and discretion, regardless of his commitments [1967] and work schedule as well as the size of his clientele and the system in which the publican must take part. As a publican myself, and as a nominee of the Licensed Vintners' Association in this House, I can say that publicans are ready and willing to co-operate with the Minister in this regard but he cannot expect the publican to take responsibility if the ID card proves to be false, inadequate or incomplete. As I have said, the publican is a businessman, not a policeman or a legal scrutineer.

These regulations must be seen to operate fairly and I know that the publicans will play their full part in this. Also, I am glad that the Bill proposes greater access for the public, especially in the area of granting special restaurant licences. Up to now it was only the Garda who could object to the granting of licences and I am glad to see that the public are now to be included in this process. I am particularly glad to note that section 10 allows the public to object to a special restaurant licence if there is an allegation that the premises is not bona fide and solely used as a restaurant.

However, there is one area where a more proper balance could be struck between the public and the publican and that is in relation to Sunday hours. The Bill proposes to retain the present hours from 12.30 p.m. to 2 p.m. We might usefully consider another social and cultural change which has been occurring in recent years. The fact is that now many pubs serve Sunday brunches, and I submit that to expect a full clearance by 2 p.m. is expecting a bit too much. Given the fact that a lot of people prefer to take a late Sunday lunch, I would propose extending the 2 p.m. closing by a half hour or even one hour. It is not that I am proposing extended Sunday opening. Indeed, to balance my proposal I would be in favour of re-opening at 5 p.m. instead of at 4 p.m. The point I wish to make is to extend a theme that I have mentioned already: that the comfort and enjoyment of the customer should not be compromised by unreasonable regulations and, therefore, an unduly heavy [1968] onus on the publican. To me it is a question of balance.

I am also glad to see that the so-called “holy hour” between 2.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. on weekdays is to be abolished in the Dublin and Cork areas, which since 1962 are the only areas where it has continued to operate. Perhaps this did have a function in the past, but I do not think it applies any longer and given the changes in the bar trade, particularly in relation to lunch time business, its abolition is a welcome change.

Finally, I want to refer to another and new area of the licensed trade: the supermarket and general off-licence trade. This is an area which has been growing in recent years and I am glad the regulations propose the tightening up of the legislation. Up to now off-licences, particularly the supermarkets, have not been separated from the general supermarket area. There has been an almost uncontrolled and free access to the shelves, with little or no control over those who buy liquor. There is a difference between buying a bar of soap and a bottle of liquor. I am glad to see that under the provisions of this Bill those areas which stock liquor will now be roped off and a special attendant will cater for sales in this area.

As I said at the beginning, both for the specific legal updating it involves and the social problems which it seeks to address, this Bill is a welcome and creative attempt to deal with the anomalies in regulations governing the sale and consumption of liquor. I welcome the Bill for its detail and also the statement of the Minister in the Seanad last week that he will be considering other questions not covered in this Bill in a subsequent Bill. For example, the position regarding the so-called early closing and six day licences does merit attention. I hope that the Minister will take my reservations as well as my comments into consideration and I commend the Bill to the House.

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy  Zoom on John A Murphy  I happened to mention to my wife yesterday that I would be making a contribution to the debate on [1969] the Intoxicating Liquor Bill. She commented very pertinently, indeed, that I was eminently qualified to do so — the kind of remark that only wives can make. Indeed, I am eminently qualified to do so because I have participated joyfully and fully and, I hope on the whole responsibly, in the public house culture of my country. So, at an individual level I have a great interest in this Bill. Of course, that culture is very much a part of our lives and the Bill is of great social importance for that reason, though as has been said just now, it does not cover the whole area. It is, nonetheless, of great social importance.

Senator Manning, in his contribution, put the 1927 Intoxicating Liquor Act in its historical context. I suggest that our attitudes to drink go much further back than that and are much more complex than that. On the one hand, drink is an integral part of our culture, of our ancestors' lives. On the other hand, churchmen and nationalists saw drink as a destructive force — certainly the abuse of drink. The bishops at a Maynooth synod about 100 years ago said: “Drunkeness has wrecked more homes than ever fell beneath the crowbar in the worst days of eviction: it was filled more graves, made more widows and orphans than did the Famine.”

Drink was taking on the dimensions of an extremely serious social problem right through the 19th century. It had, of course, its humorous side. A Kerry parish priest during the days of the Land League is reputed to have declaimed against the evil of drink by reminding his congregations that “it is drink that makes you beat your children; it is drink that has you falling out with your wives; it is drink that has you shooting at landlords and it is drink that makes you miss them.” For one reason or another a whole range of people were concerned with the abuses of drink.

Of course, nationalists who hoped for regeneration and who hoped that righteous men would make our land a nation once again complemented the efforts of churchmen to try to bring about reform in these areas. “Ireland sober, Ireland [1970] free” became the great slogan of the 1880s. It is, by the way, the title of a fascinating book —Ireland Sober,Ireland Free— by a historian called Elizabeth Malcolm. I would recommend it to my colleagues as a very interesting background to this whole question of drink. It is amusing also to recall the comments of one of the best known prelates in the Catholic world in the late 19th century, Bishop John Ireland of St. Paul, Minnesota, who in issuing a clarion call for total abstinence made the following quaint remark: “Though the Irish themselves do not drink more than the English or the Scots, alcohol does them more harm because the warm nature of the Irish people yields more readily to its flames and in the wreck which follows they have more virtues to sacrifice”— which I think is a beautifully complimentary remark about our predeliction to drink.

Nationalists and churchmen blame past defeats on alcohol. As everyone knows, the rebellion of 1798 was supposed to have perished on the rocks of alcohol, as it were. Fr. Cullen, the great apostle of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Society said in 1911 in Wexford: “In these very fields your fathers fought and fell, not so much beneath the fire of the North Cork militia and the Orange yeomanry as by the treachery of drink.”

The founding fathers of the State inherited quite a complex attitude to drink, a very mixed heritage in regard to the whole question of drink. One of the curiosities of our alcohol culture, if you might call it that, is the enormous number of teetotallers. There is an extraordinary polarisation of lifestyles in this State which I believe is not equalled anywhere else in Western Europe. They are two different lifestyles. I have to make an effort of the imagination to envisage the kind of life I would have led had I not become addicted to the pint. Out there, there are perhaps hundreds of thousands of people for whom all this is a closed book. Anyway, in the whole context, the State has done well in its public policy on drink, a sensible and balanced policy on the whole, I think. We have avoided the [1971] extremes of licence — I do not intend any pun — on the one hand and puritanism on the other. This Bill maintains that happy medium. It is almost impossible to avoid making puns in this context.

There are those who say that you should let the sale and distribution of alcohol open to the free play of market forces, to borrow a word from the monetarists, that you should simply allow people to sell drink and purchase drink at any time they like. That is something like the situation that obtains in many parts of the United States where the restricted hours are virtually entirely at the discretion of the publican himself. Of course, unlike the United States, the public house culture is central to our lives and a measure of discipline is called for. In fact, when you think about drink, discipline is the key really to the proper enjoyment of alcohol. Every medium-serious drinker — in which category I would include myself — must observe throughout his or her life a continual measure of discipline in order to maintain good health and enjoyment, and to avoid the excesses that are always lurking there. I think that licensing laws are a social reflection of the individual discipline which is essential in our attitude to drink.

Myles na gCopaleen, I recall, once proposed — tongue in cheek of course — that all public houses should be closed except between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and this, he said, would really test the seriousness of the committed drinker. He depicted vividly the domestic scene, the fumbling under the bed for the boots. “Where are you going this hour of the night?”“For my pint, of course.” But, alas, Myles himself was probably a victim of his own fantasies in that regard.

Discipline is of the essence and that is why there must be control on youth because, in the nature of things, young people cannot discipline themselves. The danger is, of course — and there may well be a danger in this kind of legislation — that, in toughening up the laws on young people drinking, they may turn to other even less desirable outlets. This is one of the things that people worry about [1972] in the United States particularly where there are quite severe restrictions on young people drinking. In some areas it does turn them in the direction of the much more readily available outlet of drugs, because you can peddle cocaine at the street corner but you cannot very well peddle pints of porter on the street corner, and drugs are a much more accessible outlet. That is the danger.

As I say, we must impose discipline on youth because they are not able yet to discipline themselves. I think there is another proper order of affairs in all this matter. I do not think nature intends young people to indulge themselves in this way before a particular age. It takes from the proper sequence of development in life; it takes from the pleasures of youth to anticipate the pleasures of adult life. To lose their alcoholic virginity earlier than they should is not really right. Someone has remarked, rather facetiously but appropriately, that children should enjoy their childhood just as adults enjoy their adultery.

I notice that a nationwide survey just published today discloses massive parental support for the new Bill and particularly for the sections on the restriction of alcohol for young people. There is massive parental support for the Bill and that should confirm for the Government that they are on the right track in this matter. There is little doubt about public support in general for this Bill.

I note with some wistfulness that the “holy hour” is to go. What a marvellous phrase and how evocative it is of what is now a lost religious culture. The phrase “holy hour” is not an official description of the prohibited hours of drinking but, with marvellous Irish verbal felicity, it was immediately dubbed the “holy hour” in a generation for which the actual devotional holy hour was an essential feature in their lives. I think it was a happy phrase and has been accepted quite seriously in serious debate. I notice that the Minister in introducing his speech last week used it without any facetious or humourous intent whatsoever. Let us celebrate, as it were, the birth and decline of one of the great examples of Irish [1973] verbal genius. Also I regret its passing because there was something special about the “holy hour”. I understand that in the House it is not appropriate for Senators to even indirectly admit to past misdemeanours. Let me put it in an impersonal way. I understand that there could be no greater illicit pleasure in the whole context of alcohol than to be kept inside by a friendly publican when the less-favoured were ushered out and that the pint, or whatever it was, tasted infinitely sweeter during that forbidden afternoon period. Alas, these days are now gone from us, but let us celebrate them.

I agree with Senator Bohan about the Sunday hours. I think the extension to 11 p.m. is very sensible and in the summer time especially. I think people's life pattern on a Sunday does require that extra hour; the 10 o'clock closing is, for obvious reasons, a bit too early. I take Senator Bohan's point about extending the lunch time hours slightly on Sunday. I do hope serious consideration will be given to that.

I have no fault to find with the balance which the Bill observes as between special restaurants, public houses and clubs. I am a great friend of vintners and it is obvious from what I have said already that the vintners would regard me as their friend; indeed, I share the sentiments of the poet who said: “I often wonder what the vintners buy one half so precious as the goods they sell”. Nonetheless, they have been a powerful lobby in Irish life. In fact, one of the reasons why the Irish Parliamentary Party came to be so discredited at the turn of the century and after 1916 was that the new Nationalists, the Gaelic Leaguers, Sinn Féiners and so on, held many of the old Parliamentary Party Nationalists in great contempt because they identified them with the liquor lobby.

The liquor lobby, in the eyes of the new Nationalists, was an obstacle against that kind of regeneration which was necessary if there was to be a new Ireland. The liquor argument entered into this new nationalism. It is interesting [1974] that very many of the prominent individuals in what brought about the revolution eventually, in that new generation of nationalists, were in fact teetotalers, people like Pádraig Pearse, Jim Larkin, Bulmer Hobson and James Connolly. All that is reflected and epitomised in one anecdote which Denis McCullough, who became President of the Supreme Council of the IRB, tells us about the way in which he was initiated into the IRB in the company of bibulous old Fenians in a Belfast public house. The point is that all of that old generation were regarded by the young with a puritanical contempt because of their indulgence in alcohol.

I was making the point that the vintners' lobby has always historically been a very strong one. I do think, fond as I am of various vintners collectively and individually, including my colleague Senator Cregan, that the vintners tend to look upon themselves as having a divine right to a monopoly over drink, that only they understand properly what should be done in the whole drink area. They actually, I think, even resent restaurants serving wine, never mind the much larger menu which they will now be permitted under the new legislation. I do think it is no harm to say frankly to the vintners that they are not the exclusively appointed dispensers of alcohol in this country.

I also think they are making a mistake in arguing that what is going to happen with the special restaurants will be a threat to their livelihoods. I do not see that. For the most part my own observation is that the staple source of the publican's trade are the kind of people who are regular drinkers and who are not necessarily the kind of people who will be wining and dining in the best hotels. I think these are two separate kinds of trade. I do not see any force in the vintners' powerful pressuring which has been going on over the last several weeks. On the other hand — and I do not want to make them out to be entirely dogs in the manger — I do think, and have always thought, that the publicans had a case against clubs and against the abuses of clubs. I notice that the Bill is going to [1975] tighten up the laws on clubs. I strongly approve of that.

In the area of fines for breaches of the law, which it is proposed to update, I suppose we will come to that on Committee Stage. However, I want to say here that perhaps for the small publican some of these fines do seem to be a bit severe, even allowing for the adjustment in money values at present. I am in favour — and again I come back to a point Senator Bohan made — as a consumer and as a customer myself of putting the onus on the customers to observe the law. I have seen times out of number publicans, particularly perhaps female publicans who may not command great respect — some of them do, of course, command the most enormous respect — having difficulty in clearing a pub at closing time. The general point is that customers themselves should carry the brunt of the blame if there is a breach of the law. Through the Chair, I would seriously suggest increasing the fine on the individual customer. I am quite convinced that, if there was a serious prospect of a customer being fined £100, his thirst for drink would be severely limited.

All that depends on whether the law is going to be enforced. Whatever happens this Bill when it is passed, for God's sake let it be enforced. This country is becoming a laughing-stock for the non-enforcement of laws. Only a week or so ago we had a memo from the Irish Farmers' Association in respect of the pollution question in which they suggested solemnly that the solution does not lie in “over-reliance on enforcement”. Whatever is passed in this Bill, let it be enforced fully and seriously. I did not have time this morning to absorb a document which landed on our desks arguing for special treatment of publicans in the entertainment trade along the Border who, because of the liberalisation of liquor laws in Northern Ireland, regard their own livelihood as being threatened in critical times of the week's trade. The Minister will know what these representations are. On a quick reading the document seemed to me to be making a [1976] very good case. I would put my voice behind that.

There are two sections of the Bill to which I want to make a quick reference. Section 34 has to do with the presence of children in licensed premises. One development which I have personally deplored over the past decade or two is the proliferation of children in public houses, particularly at weekends where it seems the parents now regard it as their right to introduce children as they would to a public nursery or créche. As a serious drinker, I am certainly not prepared to tolerate the presence of toddlers in pubs. I think young parents have a duty to keep their children out of pubs. I certainly kept mine out of pubs until they got beyond me. I do not know what the section refers to but I do hope a lenient eye will not be cast on this new development. I notice that there is a new regularisation of the age of young people employed to serve drink. I hope this is also observed because it seems to me at the moment that many establishments, particularly non-trade union establishments, employ almost Dickensian-aged children toddling around clearing the tables and so on who have no business at that tender age to be in those premises.

Finally, I come to the question which is a matter of much debate, that is, the identity cards which are now being proposed to be used on a voluntary basis so that young people can establish that they are over 18 years of age. I cannot understand the concern expressed by many people about the alleged sinister dimension of these cards. We received a document from the Irish Sovereignty Movement, a body for which I have great regard and of which I was once a member but which, in this instance seems to be going overboard. It was a press release towards the end of last month which was headed; “Mr. Collins Considering Introducing Identity Cards: Alarm Bells for Civil Liberties and Democratic Freedoms.”

It goes on to make the point that ID cards in several countries are the alarm bells for restriction on individual freedoms. A connection is made with South Africa's [1977] notorious pass laws and a prediction is made that this is a step on the road to totalitarian control over the individual citizen's liberties. I think all that is total nonsense. If the pass card is a highly objectionable symbol of the servitude of blacks in South Africa, it is because the regime in South Africa is already totalitarian: it is not the cards that make the regime totalitarian. The presence of cards in a democracy has an entirely different significance from that in a totalitarian regime. That is one point to be made.

From my own experience I note that, in New England in the United States, which is the homeland of individualism, the State of New Hampshire has as its slogan, “Live free or die”. There is an almost bizarre preoccupation in the United States generally, but in New England in particular, with the rights of the individual. Yet, New England and in particular the States of Massachusetts and Maine with which I am familar have very restrictive laws for young people in the matter of drink. The age there is 21 and it is rigidly enforced. Americans are not particularly disturbed by the fact that they may call on their young men to die for their country at 18 but they will not serve them liquor until they are 21.

What I am saying is that, in an area where there is a high concern for individual liberties, there is virtually a consensus among the community about the desirability of restricting the sale of alcohol and keeping the age of 21. The identity card is a universal card in this system. One regularly sees, particularly in bars which are a favourite haunt of students, visits by policemen, checks by the owners themselves and there is no trouble whatsoever. Nobody thinks that his or her liberty is being unduly interfered with. This is an area where there is a risk of counterfeit cards circulating. In recent days something like this happened in Galway.

It should be fairly easy to devise a card which would be proof against that kind of thing and which would not — and this is important to allay the genuine fears of those who are paranoid about ID cards —[1978] carry the kind of numbered identification which could be linked up with income tax, social insurance, or passport numbers but which would carry its own kind of number which may be essential for the proper issue of these cards and beyond that carry the date of birth and a photograph. I cannot see how this could possibly restrict the individual's freedom. It would enhance the individual's feeling of assurance when he or she goes into a licensed premises that there will not be any trouble. Far from worrying about ID cards, I must say I think they are a very sensible and entirely healthy development.

I have great pleasure in welcoming the Bill with the reservations that I have made. I hope the suggestions which were made in the Seanad which are sensible and which do not infringe on the principles of the Bill will be taken seriously by the Government. I must say I welcome greatly what seems to be a trend under this Government, a certain move towards some kind of consensus legislation and I hope it takes this House into account as well.

Mr. McGowan: Information on Paddy McGowan  Zoom on Paddy McGowan  I join with other Senators in the House in welcoming the opportunity to make a few observations on the Bill. The general public are very interested in the Intoxicating Liquor Bill, 1988. It has evoked widespread interest among parents, churches and the general public. They are pleased that the Government have taken a very active interest in reviewing the intoxicating liquor legislation. Those of us who are not legally minded and familiar with the language used by the parliamentary draftsman have to understand the Bill if we are to impart our knowledge of it. This applies right across the board. Those people who are requested to obey the law should be able to understand it. The general public expect ongoing alterations and improvements to be made to our legislation so that it conforms with that in other EC countries.

I come from County Donegal and I know that for a long time drinking has [1979] been permitted for 23 hours of the day in areas like Burtonport and Killybegs. I have to ask what has happened to those areas. Have the young people of Killybegs and Burtonport become inferior, wild or are they drunkards? Drinking is fairly liberal and free in fishing ports. The hotel training college in Killybegs, which has at least 300 students, is the most successful hotel training college in the country. It is run by the vocational educational committee in Killybegs. We should assess the pattern of life of those 300 young students. I am not carrying any ads or flags for breweries or drink but I know what is happening in Killybegs. All of the students in that college find jobs. Some of them have won gold medals in Dublin and London and this has been recognised by the Minister for Education and others who have conferred awards on those students. The college is an unquestionable success.

County Donegal is a holiday county and the people there depend largely on tourism for a living. The visitors who come to County Donegal do not come into Dublin or Shannon; they come in through Northern Ireland. They come from the UK and Europe. Our new licensing laws have to conform with those in the countries these visitors come from. I live in the diocese of Derry and 500 yards on the Tyrone side of the Border there is a centre which is run by the Church. I wonder whether the laws and regulations operated there are much more liberal than those being proposed here. I do not know what laws are operated there but I know that when a person leaves a pub, club, restaurant, bar or hotel he or she can go to that centre and get a drink. I am not inferring that centre is being run in such a liberal fashion by the Church that they are breaking all the laws. I would say that in the North more liberal laws pertain to clubs and centres, such as the Millmount Centre in Strabane, which is run by the Church authorities.

As a public representative I have dealings with people who have to survive in the tourist business and a number of them [1980] who live in County Donegal and along the Border will be in a difficult position if the new Bill is introduced. I am not opposed to the Bill. I welcome its introduction and I believe it will tidy up many areas of the law so that it will be easy to implement. The previous speaker said that the acid test of the Bill is whether it will be easy to implement and the cost to the State of implementing it.

I want to refer in general terms to a few areas of the Bill and I hope to introduce amendments on Committee Stage. I hope the Minister will be charitable in considering these because of the difficulties experienced by the people in the area I come from. I welcome the introduction of licences for restaurants. Those who provide proper food for travellers and visitors are entitled to a restaurant licence. However, I think the cost of the licence is a bit low. I express my support for this licence because one can get a drink in a village or town at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or 10 a.m. but one cannot get a meal. That is an anomaly that has to be put right and I accept that this Bill attempts to do that. At the opening of the festival in Dungloe I stated that I hoped the people who owned restaurants would stay open and provide meals so that it would be as easy to get a meal in the town as it would be to get a drink at 11 p.m. or 12 p.m. This Bill makes a genuine contribution towards rectifying this problem.

The word “club” is very wide and can cover genuine GAA clubs, rugby clubs and many other clubs that are well run and are staffed by people who do not want to sit up listening to drunkards until 7 a.m. However, it can also cover clubs which are spontaneously organised and held in private houses. It is very hard to have a clear definition of the word “club”. I believe it is going to be very difficult, and I hope I am wrong, to police clubs and to have effective control over them.

With regard to Friday and Saturday opening hours, I would strongly urge the Minister to look again at this in the light of the experience of those involved in the tourist industry. In County Donegal the high tourist period is during the months [1981] of June, July and August. If people are going to a disco, dance, hotel, club or pub they normally go after 10 p.m. I appeal to the Minister to review the question of opening hours. I propose to put down some amendments on Committee Stage in relation to this. I do not know how far I will get with them but I will put them down because I know that it will be nearly impossible to police, will cost a fortune to police and at the end of the day it will be only partly successful. The same will happen as happened with the holy hour. The holy hour has been referred to in jocose terms but because we are now putting serious legislation in place everyone has to make a serious contribution to it. This aspect has to be looked at.

I know the Minister is under tremendous pressure from parent groups, the Churches or whoever and everyone has a valid argument to make. However, the people who represent different areas have concerns which are as important. I am speaking as a person who had a licence for 20 years and ran an hotel within 100 yards of the Border. I did not have too many dealings with the law and this was not because I linked arms with the local sergeant on every occasion. I claim to have not a professional or legal knowledge but a basic layman's knowledge of what happens and I hope the Minister will take seriously my simple and direct contribution on this Bill. If the law is clear, simple and easy to understand, then it will have much more respect and its chances of being implemented, kept and respected by everybody are that much greater.

I want to refer to bars in universities. Recently I watched a film on BBC on the university in Belfast. The students from the South of Ireland who were interviewed referred to the number of bars on the road that adjoined the university. They are a part of the everyday life of young students. We have to look at this aspect of university life as well as every other aspect. Can any Member of this House or the other House say that his son or daughter, brother or sister will come through university in a sheltered [1982] fashion and that drink will not be available at whatever hour they want it? Perhaps that sounds as though I believe we should have no laws at all. However, that is not the intention of my contribution. Young people have too much access to drink. They can get it in a university bar or in the homes of their best friends. Those who believe otherwise are blinding themselves to the realities of life.

It is important that our legislation is in harmony with European legislation, UK legislation and Northern Ireland legislation. Many people travel across the Border and when new legislation is being introduced here, the opportunity should be taken to examine the laws operated in the North.

Some Members live in areas where the new legislation will present some difficulties. If they put down amendments on Committee Stage I hope the Minister will recognise that these are based on sincere commitments and knowledge of the situation. The problems which prevail in the Border areas do not prevail in the rest of the country.

I am delighted that the new legislation is being introduced. I hope it will have the general approval of the House and will meet all the concerns I have referred to. I welcome the Bill and I trust that the measures that are introduced and passed into legislation will be workable, sensible and simple and will have the support of the large majority of the people. I hope that people of all walks of life recognise that the Government have a responsibility to legislate and that this is being done in the best interests of the vast majority of people. I hope the Bill can provide for the special circumstances which pertain in my part of the country.

Mr. Cregan: Information on Denis Cregan  Zoom on Denis Cregan  Obviously Senator McGowan spoke as a person who was involved in the drink trade. I believe this Bill will give us a different view on how to drink. Obviously there was a problem in the restaurant trade because some people like to have a drink with their meals but I do not think we should now give the impression that all of a sudden drink is a simple thing. It is not; drink [1983] can cause problems for some people. I have been a publican for over 15 years and was reared in a public house but I do not drink. As a person who does not drink, and looking at it from behind the counter, I have no hesitation in saying that, the most contented man I have ever met is the man who takes a pint. I have seen people who work in mills, lorry drivers, an insurance official and Civil Servants sit down together and have a pint. They come into the pub at around 9.30 p.m. and they are happy to go home at 11 p.m. They can talk about different issues while they are having a pint. I believe that people in many other areas of the world and in particular, those in America pay a lot of money to other people because they do not have the same kind of contentment.

I believe that about 96 per cent of people can take a drink but as a publican I know that some of the people who come to my counter should not be drinking. I know of people who have taken their lives as a result of drinking too much, I know people who have pined away, who have used drink as a means of forgetting their troubles. That is sad. Because I work in the licensed trade I have a great interest in Alcoholics Anonymous. Some of the people who attend Alcoholics Anonymous are very intelligent but when they could not manage their affairs they turned to drink.

Senator McGowan referred to the position in other countries. I have visited the UK and countries in Europe and I do not think we should try to change our traditions. Many people drink in pubs and I believe this is the safest place to drink. Drink can now be bought in supermarkets and drank at home and I believe this is the most dangerous place to drink. Some people drink in their homes and it is no problem — and I know the Minister is aware of this — for four or six people to drink a bottle of vodka in one night. If that was to happen in any pub, and certainly in my pub, serious questions would be asked by the rest of the people in the pub. They would probably be told to take it easy and have a pint. I know [1984] that happens in local pubs and one person minds the others. In general, that is what I like about pubs. I know that 4 per cent or 5 per cent of customers are not able to handle drink and a publican has a responsibility, not to give drink to them if he thinks they are not capable of taking it. I take that responsibility very seriously.

As people get older they may become a little biased and get annoyed with people who take too much drink. I am afraid that the Bill may be too loose and that people over 18 years will be able to get drink when they like. I do not believe we will be able to control the situation in that event. Serious concerns have been expressed regarding the problem of drink but yet we have a Bill before us which says we must look after the people who come into the country and ensure they can get drink when and where they want it. I am not saying that restaurants should not be able to serve drink, but we must have strict legislation.

I would prefer if people had to be 21 years old before they could drink. Probably I am old-fashioned but I have seen a lot of people get into trouble over drink, including my own relations. This legislation must ensure that those people are protected also. We must protect those who cannot take drink but who think they are able to take it. Some people think they have no problems with drink but at the same time they are not able to handle it. About 4 per cent or 5 per cent of people should not drink. I know three sons from one family who are fine fellows and excellent workers when they are sober but they have a problem with drink. Their father has the same problem. I know they should not drink but how can I tell them they should not drink? They should not be able to drink where and when they like. I do not think the “Honda Kings” should be able to use having a meal as an excuse for getting drink. The vast majority of spending is done by people under the age of 25 years and they are the people with the money. A married couple who have three or four children can only afford to have a few pints or a small vodka every week.

[1985] I am worried this Bill will give people the impression that they can get drink whenever they want it. We should be realistic about this. I do not see anything wrong with a couple in a restaurant drinking a half bottle of wine each but if a person drank a half bottle of vodka in a pub serious questions would be asked because it is not the done thing. I am not saying people should not be served drink in a restaurant. I am in favour of broadening our attitudes. We must certainly move with the times, but we want to be careful not to bring about a situation where you can have wine and spirits on the table at the same time. That is not good, as within a period of three to four months a person who likes it too much could be going once too often for it.

One can be very merry after a bottle of wine. It is no problem for four people to agree to have six bottles of wine. Can you imagine the questions if you were having three pints of vodka — but six bottles of wine are the same as six pints. The alcohol content is lower. Alcohol content in some wines is higher than in others and we should not deny that. We have had a drinking problem over the past ten years, whether we like it or not, particularly with women at home, which I find very sad. I make no apologies for saying that. I have a very big lounge trade and it frightens me to see the way some women drink in comparison to a man. I know many men who could, in a period of one hour, take eight pints, but there is no way they could keep up with the way some women drink. I hope we are not bringing about a situation where the person who is able to go to the restaurants, and I emphasise “able to go to the restaurant”, not like the ordinary fellow and his wife who want only a pint and a glass of larger or a vodka, has too much put before him because he is able to spend money.

This Bill states that there must be no bar area or waiting area in a restaurant. How can anybody say that you can fill a pint for Micky Murphy inside in a restaurant but cannot fill it from a bar? Where is the pint going to come from? If Micky Murphy and his wife are having [1986] a bottle of wine and the wife suddenly decides she wants to have a vodka and he wants to have a pint, one could have very drunk people coming out of a restaurant, because they are sitting down drinking.

There is need for drink in restaurants, but I can see instances where our drinking people could be in a worse situation. In my view more people are eating out, and who enjoy eating out like myself — those who can afford it anyway — will drink. I would be afraid that instead of having the meal, drink will take over. Drink does that to some people, it takes over. This is why I am afraid of this legislation. We say that we need to make sure that our people and our tourists coming in to restaurants get this facility. Is the same facility available in other countries? Is there a problem in other countries as regards drink? Is it not true to say that when we compare alcohol comsumption in the Twelve nations, we are only seventh or eighth? This is because of the controls.

Has the Minister any idea what it can be like to take too much wine? Wine is not water. It would be a lot more serious if they were drinking two glasses of vodka with it. It would be a lot more serious again, if they were taking three glasses of “Paddy” with it, or, for that matter, two pints of stout. I would not like it if a person was driving down to restaurants in Kinsale, Dún Laoghaire, or anywhere else, and having three bottles of wine and three pints. I would be very cautious. I would much prefer to see them in the local pub having four pints and walking home.

I hope we are not going to bring about an abuse of alcohol that leads people to an early death. I am not biased against the licensing laws. I am not saying the pub trade is going to be worse. I am worried about the abuse of drink because I have seen many people in trouble due to it. I have never had a drink. At this stage I would be afraid to drink with the way things are going.

Suddenly we are concerned that we make sure we serve drink only to those over 18 years of age. That is not our [1987] greatest problem at all. Now, people will be able to get drink anywhere, and this will be a problem. I do not think drink should be sold anywhere. I do not think we should be able to walk into supermarkets and buy drink up to 9 o'clock on a Friday or Saturday night. On the other hand, if this person is not off the licensed premises before 12 midnight, or one minute after 12 midnight, it is going to cost the publican £400. That is the greatest farce. How can you say that a licensee is responsible for ensuring that people do not get drink on the premises after a certain hour, and yet in the supermarket whoever likes can walk in and take drink, and drink it where they like?

Where is the cider for the cider parties coming from? How are people glue sniffing? People are getting drunk and people are driving cars when they are half drunk. What is the reason? The safest place to drink is in the pub because the person with the licence in his hand has a responsibility. The vast majority of publicans are very responsible. One cannot say to a restauranteur licensee that his customers have had too much drink in the restaurant, that they are in the restaurant after time. He cannot be fined. Nobody can walk into that restaurant and say these people are here after time, because they are sitting down having a meal; they could be finishing off their apple tart or their Irish coffee — that is part of a meal because there is cream in it.

It is worrying that drink may be too easy to get. There are younger people getting drink, not just in the supermarkets, but some publicans are serving them. They are branded by the Vintners Federation. We, in the Vintners Federation emphasise very strongly to our members that the licensee goes to court every October and the local police superintendent is questioned about whether he is entitled to the licence. That is only right, I do not deny it. His licence must be kept on the wall and he must pay for it. The publican must take his responsibilities seriously.

You may think that I am a little bit biased or parochial because I do not [1988] drink. I admitted at the start that the most contented person, generally, I have ever met is a man who takes a pint, because he can go to the pub on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night and sit down, have his two or three pints and go home and tell his wife the local gossip. The whole of the United States look for that, but they have not got it. In the US they are on a high because when they come home they open the cabinet and take a half a bottle of vodka. We do not do that in Ireland generally. We do not want that. The person who is drinking like that goes around with a puffed up face, with the bottle in the car, or under the sofa at home. That is frightening, and I have seen it. I have seen people who are silent and reserved about their drinking and nobody knows it. They are drinking alcohol that does not smell. They drink vodka. I have seen that happen. I do not want to see it continue. People will say we are now able to go out to a restaurant and drink. I am not saying a restaurant should not serve drink, but I am saying that we should be very strict. Senator McGowan made the point that we must simplify the legislation, and have the same hours for everyone.

Senator Murphy referred to the holy hour. It has been traditionally known as the holy hour for many years. I have no hesitation in saying I would close pubs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day. I am a publican, but if I had my way I would close pubs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day. It is better for us. There are no problems in Britain and they close from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. They do not stay open until 12.30 a.m. or 1 o'clock in the morning. They have no problems. You can walk around London at 10.30 p.m. or 11 p.m. on a Friday, and you can get a drink. How many tourists are in London in a week? Yet, we are worried about getting them here. Are there any complaints in Britain?

I have no hesitation in saying that my greatest asset in Cork city is to be able to say at 2.30 p.m. on a Saturday: “lads go on home”, because if they stay on, they are drunk at 6 p.m. If they have had too much drink at 6 p.m. they are no good [1989] to me at 8 p.m. and they are no good to their wives at home at 8.30 p.m. if they are fighting. That is the way I see it. My greatest asset is to be able to say to a person watching the Derby: “Lads, watch it at home at 2.50.” I love putting them out because they are quite comfortable after having a few drinks, they go home and cut the grass or something, or they will watch the match or race at home. I make no apologies for that, but other publicans do not agree with me.

Mr. Bohan: Information on Eddie Bohan  Zoom on Eddie Bohan  A rare publican.

Mr. Cregan: Information on Denis Cregan  Zoom on Denis Cregan  I am not denying it. The same man comes back at 5.30 p.m. for two more pints, he goes back and collects his wife at 7.30 p.m. and they come out at 9 p.m. That is what I want, because you see them all the time then. I do not want a man coming to my pub at 12 o'clock and being drunk at 4 p.m. He is no good to me for the rest of the day, that is business and you have a better man and a better business. If I had my way I would close all pubs in the country from 2 p.m. everyday until 4.30 or 5 p.m. Is it not true to say that the Bill was amended, so that restaurants have licences all day now? That amendment was agreed to.

Mr. Bohan: Information on Eddie Bohan  Zoom on Eddie Bohan  By your people.

Mr. Cregan: Information on Denis Cregan  Zoom on Denis Cregan  No, by the P.Ds. Drink is very serious. The impression is given in other countries that we drink differently and that we take too much drink. We do not. Our alcohol consumption is less than in other countries, but our pint is heavier and more potent than a pint of beer in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne or Bradford. I have a first cousin who lives in Bradford. I took him off the plane at 10.20 on a Tuesday night and I brought him down to my pub. He had four pints of Guinness between that and 11 o'clock. By the way, he had it at £1.40 a pint, which he could not believe, because he would get two pints over in Bradford for £1.40. At 11 p.m. he did not know what hit him because he had had four pints of Guinness. He could have had eight pints of ale [1990] in Bradford and it would be the same thing. The alcohol content here is higher and stronger. The stamp and quality of our pints, in particular our stouts, are excellent. They are the best in Europe. I make no apologies for saying that. We have the best drink in Europe but that is what we should be selling. We have the best stouts. We have three great stouts. I do not drink at all but I know from listening and watching a person who puts it to his lips the contentment he can get from it. It is marvellous to see a man getting contentment from his two or three pints. He is the one guy I like to protect because he is the big guy to the publican. He is the big guy to our country, as he shows example to his own sons and daughters.

Senator Murphy made a point about children in pubs. I do not like toddlers around pubs. I would tell a fellow that if he wants to bring his child out on a Sunday morning he should not be bringing the child to a pub. He should not be showing bad example. A public house is a public house where drink is being consumed. I am not saying that children should not be there at all, but I would much prefer it if they were not. I always ask couples is it not better to leave them somewhere else. A wife may ask her husband on a Sunday morning to bring the children with him because she does not like him going to the pub — pure petty jealousy. But the child suffers as well. I have seen it several times, where a husband cannot go for a pint without his children. That is the problem. Instead, she should put the child out in the garden or let the child play in the park and let the husband go for his pint — he could be doing a lot worse.

On the south side of Cork city — the Minister knows the area — there are a lot of young people. The safest thing for a young person over 18 years is to get example from his father or mother. Generally, there is a recognition that the son or daughter is with the dad or the son-in-law or whoever it is. I make no apologies for saying that I question seriously people coming into the pub about their age. I was pulled one time by a little girl. I [1991] asked the girl “in the name of God how old are you. I cannot serve you” She replied she was a mother of two children. She was 24 years old, but in actual fact she looked 16 years old. I had to apologise. That is how seriously I take my responsibility, and, believe it or not, the people around the counter respect that, because they see that if their fellow comes in he is going to be treated the same way. The wife respects the publican asking the husband to go home at 2.30 because she knows he is going to be home again next Saturday. The licensee can implement this tradition. Generally, publicans do this. They get the respect of the people they serve, in particular that of the woman of the house, because a man will not come into a pub unless the woman says that it is a nice pub to go to. That is why I say the pub is the best place to be drinking.

We want to be very careful of liquor licences and where we are going to be drinking. Restaurants will get the licence for just a £3,000 pay off, and I stress the words pay-off. Bord Fáilte will say who should get the licences. The restaurant standards worry me and I will bring this up on Committee Stage. For instance, Bord Fáilte ask certain bed and breakfasts to apply for certification as a Bord Fáilte bed and breakfast house. Cork, Killarney and other places like that are big bed and breakfast areas. These businesses do quite well. They look very well and some of them put a lot of money into their businesses, but they do well out of it. They serve breakfasts in the morning and they may have up to 24 guest bedrooms. I am worried that this person may apply for a Bord Fáilte certificate to serve drink with an evening meal within the defined serving area of the breakfast room which may now be called an evening room or a restaurant area. It is possible that these people could not be refused because they are already certified as Bord Fáilte bed and breakfast houses? Is it not true to say that every bed and breakfast on the Western Road in Cork could apply for a licence at a once-off cost of £3,000 and not be refused? They [1992] can bring it to court and say: “Why should I not get a restaurant licence when I have a restaurant area?” and the same restaurant area is the breakfast area? I would like the Minister to clarify that point.

Publicans, in particular, put a great deal of money into their businesses with the purchase of their premises and the licence. Could every second house in an area in summertime have a drink licence? The people staying for bed and breakfast would not need to leave the house. They could be entitled legally to have drink served. A Bord Fáilte house already has a defined area of, say, 50 square feet or 100 square feet — the size of this room — for a morning breakfast room. They could decide to supply a substantial meal as in a restaurant. A substantial meal is not defined by anybody. What exactly is a substantial meal? Nobody has defined it or even the cost of it. A substantial meal could be a double burger, and I serve double burgers. I serve two four ounce burgers in a triple bun and they could be way better than any fillet steak. That is a substantial meal for many people. As a matter of fact, for the vast majority of Americans a pizza is now a substantial meal. What is the definition here of proper restaurants? I do not deny the suggestion that we should have proper restaurants. When this legislation is enacted, a person who is serving a substantial meal may apply to the court for a licence. Bord Fáilte may not give him a special licence because the premises are not suitable, the type of premises is not in the Fair Trading Act. If he goes before the court and says he serves a substantial meal in an area where people can sit down, he must get a restaurant licence. He is entitled to it. We can have illusions about restaurants, that they are full of mahogany with lovely red or blue, plush seating or whatever colour you like, with subdued lighting and it all looks well. This does not necessarily mean that the way we want restaurants to be is the way they will be.

There is no way anybody can say that a person in the Western Road in Cork with 22 guest rooms who decides to serve [1993] an evening meal can be refused a special restaurant licence. If he goes to court, he can say he is entitled to a restaurant licence to serve drink and will give £3,000 for the licence. It is the very same as a mini-hotel. They are all over the country. Are the terms very loose?

Generally publicans invest in their businesses. Many put a great deal of money into them. They have nice houses. They pay very high commercial rates. At the end of the day they could be worried if every person with the money for a once-off payment of £3,000 could have a licence. For example, let me take from Jury's Hotel on the Western Road straight up to the end of it, to the greyhound track — the Minister knows where I am talking about — there is one pub, the Western Star, the only pub in the area, but all of a sudden you could have 22 of them.

There will be amendments. I know the Minister is concerned. I hope we are not jumping the gun because we just want to make sure that our tourists are looked after better. The longer hours on a Sunday are realistic, particularly in the summertime, even though I make no apologies for saying I am always delighted when Sunday comes because it is a short day for a publican. Pubs are closed at 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on a Sunday. Is there anything wrong with saying that? If the public houses opened from 12 midday to 2 o'clock only on a Sunday would people say anything?

Why do we not stay open all day Sunday? Because it would not be a nice thing to do. It is nice to close. Sunday is a family day. It is a day when the wife expects everyone to get into the car — if they have a car — and go away for a few hours. Maybe we should do the same every day. I had gardaí around my premises last year at 10.22 p.m. on 20 June. It was broad daylight and the next day was the longest day of the year. That shows how stupid the law is. We had to clear the house, get them all out. Around the corner in the local club the Gardaí cannot say: “I am going to fine this fellow because you gave him too much drink.” This will be a lot more serious than we [1994] realise. I am very much afraid that people who think about these Bills do not think about what drink means. That is the worrying part.

I am not saying that I do not welcome the Bill, but I am concerned and other people are concerned about drink. I am very seriously concerned because I know what drink can do. At the same time I make no apologies for serving drink. It has been proven in this country that the safest place to have a drink, the best place to have a drink, is in your local pub because your neighbours are watching you. You will not take too much home because your neigbours are watching that as well. It is like a watchdog and there is no reason we should not have a watchdog.

Mr. Mooney: Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  My interest in the legislation is twofold: first, the acknowledgement by the Government that the abuse of drink is a social problem of enormous proportions and, second, the proposals which impinge on legitimate business attempting to make a legitimate living. While the spotlight has fallen on the proposal to extend drinking hours and the proposal to licence restaurants, the main thrust of the Bill is to circumvent under-age drinking, give greater legal access to registered clubs and, in turn, to make such clubs more amenable to the law. The Bill also proposes to increase fines for certain offences. I welcome this Bill. It is timely and the provision to curb under-age drinking, on which I intend to dwell at some length, are to be welcomed as well.

Social behaviour has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. The increased emphasis on drink and the drink culture among the young, and women in particular, in Ireland is giving serious cause for concern. Proposals to combat drink abuse among the young included in this Bill are, therefore, to be welcomed. Although St. Paul is often quoted as saying that wine is good for the soul, as a non-drinker by choice, I am somewhat intolerant, I must confess, of the view widely held in this country that getting drunk is somehow macho. The [1995] image of the hard man who can drink all comers under the table, unfortunately, is still alive and well in this country. It is something, indeed, that is not tolerated in the EC.

Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug and is now the country's third greatest killer after heart disease and cancer, claiming thousands of lives every year and costing the country million of pounds in hopital bills, absence from work and road accidents. It is interesting that, while smokers are becoming increasingly isolated for indulging in anti-social behaviour, society has continued to encourage the drinker. That is really amazing when you consider some of the following statistics.

Problem drinking and alcohol related problems are on the increase. Alcohol related problems are costing this country £300 million a year. This can be broken down into loss of production through absenteeism, loss in taxes through unemployment and health costs. In 1984, the latest year for which figures are available, 7,200 admissions took place to psychiatric hospitals specifically for the treatment of alcoholism. This figure represents 25 per cent of the total admissions to such hospitals. The number of admissions does not accurately reflect the problem, as many people are counselled privately either through their local GP, local counselling services, Alcoholic Anonymous or as out-patients. There really is no accurate method of assessing the extent of the problem of alcoholism in this country.

Seventy-five thousand of the 1.5 million drinkers in this country will go on to develop alcoholism, leading to 150,000 who will be emotionally and physically affected. Just pause and consider the enormity of those figures that 150,000 are really innocent victims of alcoholism; the battered wives and the abused children where the head of the family — in most cases a male — suffers from alcohol related disease. Sadly a precise figure on the amount of health expenditure on the treatment of alcoholism is not available. [1996] Indeed, in the whole area of statistics, as they relate to alcohol abuse, there is a need for the Government to look at the method of collating statistics to make the general public more aware of the impact of alcohol abuse in this country.

Those statistics which are available, which I have already outlined and will continue to do so, make frightening reading. In an ESRI report entitled “Drinking in Ireland” published as far back as 1980, it was estimated that 3 per cent of total current spending on health was attributable to alcohol abuse. If one applies this figure to the estimated 1988 outturn on non-capital expenditure, the cost to the Irish health service of alcohol abuse is estimated at £39 million. Our nearest neighbour Britain, in quoting their statistics on alcohol abuse, state that the damage caused to their health service through sickness and absenteeism is £112 million in a country with a population of 56 million. Compare that with £39 million in a country with a population of just over three million.

A man who drinks regularly more than the average of 64 grammes per day and a woman who regularly drinks more than 40 grammes per day stand a high chance of alcohol related disease. To break that down, eight grammes is equivalent to about half a pint of beer which means that in the case of a man the acceptable level is four pints of beer and eight glasses of wine and in the case of a woman two and a half pints of beer and five glasses of wine.

Mr. Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Since there are so many speakers waiting and knowing that the Minister will not be here for a while I suggest that we adjourn until 1.45 p.m.

Sitting suspended at 1.05 p.m. and resumed at 1.45 p.m.

Mr. Mooney: Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  I was bringing to the attention of the Minister the frightening statistics which are increasingly coming to light and showing the effects of the abuse of alcohol in our society. I mentioned a figure of £39 million as being the estimated 1988 non-capital expenditure [1997] cost to the Irish health service for alcohol abuse and I was putting this in the context of our nearest neighbour, Great Britain, where a figure of £112 million for a population of 56 million is mentioned.

Just to put it in context, one in five of all men admitted to medical wards have an alcohol related problem in this country. A man who regularly drinks more than an averge of 64 grammes per day and a woman who regularly drinks more than 40 grammes per day stand a far higher chance of damage. To put that in its proper context, eight grammes is equal to half a pint of beer while 64 grammes is equal to four pints of beer or eight glasses of wine in the case of a man. In the case of a woman the respective figures are two and a half pints of beer and five glasses of wine. The safe limit for men in the week is 39 glasses of wine and for a woman 22 glasses. The daily intake, rather than a weekly intake, is three glasses of wine for a man and two for a woman. Senators can see that the average rate of intake in this country is higher than the safe limit.

Ten per cent of all deaths under 25 years occur while the victim is drunk. Alcohol is also associated with sudden non-accidental death. Health effects are well known. However, less well known is the fact that black-outs commonly occur during acute intoxication. How many times have we unfortunately seen youngsters wandering around after a late night drinking session or, as has become increasingly apparent in recent years, staggering in the streets of our towns and cities following a so-called celebration of their examination results? It is to those people that I direct these statistics.

Chronic abuse leads to both mental and behavioural changes, unsteadiness, loss of memory and in the withdrawal period may result in very severe delirium hallucinations. A recent survey pointed out the difficulties and the after effects of alcohol abuse on the body: aggressive irrational behaviour, violence and depression, chronic coughing leading to throat cancer, frequent colds reducing resistance to infection, cirrhosis and liver cancer, trembling hands, tingling fingers [1998] and impared sensation leading to falls, blackouts, serious memory loss, puffy eyes, drinker's nose, looking older as a result of alcohol abuse, cancer of the oesophagus, heart failure, vitamin deficiency, severe inflammation of the stomach, inpaired kidney function, with, in men impaired sexual performance, impotence and, in women, unwanted pregnancies in some cases. The list is frightening.

Malnutrition is common in alcoholics. Nurtritional deficiencies may also be the cause of neurological complications in some patients. Heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes are three times more common in heavy drinkers than they are in non-drinkers or those who drink to moderation. Thirty per cent to 50 per cent of babies born to heavy drinkers have serious defects.

The crime statistics are no less frightening in relation to the abuse of alcohol particularly among the young. In 1972 in this country there were 2,795 convictions for drunkenness. Ten years later the figure had risen to 4,734. Committal statistics show that the number committed for drug offences is low in comparison with the number committed for alcohol related offences. It is estimated that non-capital expenditure in the Irish prison service is currently standing at £4.2 million. The suggestion is that counselling in prison would help to reduce this figure.

Road accident statistics tell an equally harrowing story of abuse of alcohol. A study in Dublin and Kildare between 1977 and 1981 showed that 67 per cent of those killed had more than the legal level of alcohol in their blood. The legal limit in this country is two pints of beer. Nineteen per cent of the 218 cases examined were free of alcohol and 31 per cent of all the victims had twice the legal limit, four pints. I might mention at this stage — it is something to which the Government and the Minister should give serious consideration — that the Irish legal limit is the most lenient in the European Community and is twice that permitted in many European countries. Surely this is an area of legislation that needs to be [1999] looked at immediately in the context of the impact of alcohol abuse on our society.

To add to the argument I am putting before the Minister could I indicate to him that An Foras Forbartha 1983 report, “Road Traffic Accident Facts in 1983” stated that the numbers killed between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. were 165 with 2,175 injured. This represents, respectively, 35 per cent and 26 per cent of the total numbers killed and injured on our roads. In other words, over one in three have been killed on our roads as a result of alcohol abuse while one in four have been injured. It indicates the continuing seriousness of drink related accidents.

Alcohol abuse and its impact are no less severe on the family. Gallup, a very well known polling company, gave data for the United States as far back as 1980 which indicated that 60 per cent of the total United States population identified alcohol abuse as one of the most harmful influences on family life today. Further, it proved that children of alcoholics are more likely to suffer from alcoholism than children of non-alcoholics. One in three in any random group survey carried out by Gallup had at least one parent suffering from alcoholism.

I put these figures to the Minister in the context of the proposals to allow children into the pubs of Ireland even though the proposed law states they must be accompanied by parents. I believe it is a retrograde step in a civilised society with such frightening statistics, causing untold social, economic, physical and psychological damage right across the entire spectrum of Irish life, to allow parents to bring their children into pubs. I do not believe the argument that they are better off inside the pubs with their parents than sitting outside in a car while the parents drink is a justifiable argument. In a recent survey published in the past few days by the newly formed cider industry council, 94 per cent of parents expressed their support for the proposed increase in the minimum age limit for purchasing alcohol from off-licence premises from 15 to 18 [2000] years of age. Surely that figure is an indication of the widespread concern Irish parents have about abuses in under-age drinking. Now the law will allow a new generation to grow up in a pub culture. I fail to understand why this provision has been included in the Bill. It is something the Minister should be very concerned about. I am opposed to it and I do not think it should be included in the Bill.

I do not wish to spend all of my contribution in quoting these statistics, but they are horrifying and it is not often one gets the opportunity to quote them. Surveys relating to under-age drinking have been carried out. The Health Council of Ireland carried out a survey recently and found that the 15 to 17 age group drink frequently. The Health Council survey of intermediate certificate students — these would be on average young people of 15 and 16 years of age — showed that 62.5 per cent said they drank. They stated that three out of five drank more than once a month and the rest drank more than twice a week. Interestingly enough, with all of the attacks being made on the licensed trade, it was indicated in the survey that in the 15 to 17 year old group, 50 per cent bought their drink in off-licence premises, 30 per cent in pubs and 20 per cent got drink at home.

The proposal to upgrade the age to 18 is a welcome provision in this Bill as it should help to cut off or reduce the purchase of drink by under-age members of our population. All of us have a responsibility in this area. I do not think it is enough to point the finger at the Government of the day and say: “You do something about this problem.” We all share the problem. I believe that at least part of the answer to the problem of under-age drinking lies in the home. If the parents showed good example — if the parents were concerned about the welfare of their offspring — I believe the incidence of abuse of drink in that age group would be considerably less than it is today.

The Government can only go so far in providing the framework, in putting in the legislation, but if the proper attitude of mind is absent, no amount of legislation [2001] will change drinking habits. In that context I welcome this provision and hope it will be very strictly enforced. I understand that in public statements the Minister has made it quite clear that he is going to enforce the new provisions regorously. It is an area which I am glad has been addressed. Without in any way inferring that the Garda Síochána or previous Administrations have been lax there is a general perception that, for whatever reason, there has been a flagrant abuse of the law in this country in relation to drink, the consumption of drink and the sale of drink.

There is another area that I believe should be addressed by the Minister. It is an insidious one; it is subtle. It is not something that one can point the finger at and say it is doing a specific or significant amount of damage but again it is a perception, that is, media advertising of drink. I would like to share my view with the Minister in relation to this. Media advertising of drink in this country is governed by two codes — the code of advertising standards for Ireland and the RTE code of standards for drink advertising. They provide that advertising should not be specifically directed to youth or be capable of being so construed and secondly, that the advertising of drink should not be linked to sexual attraction or physical prowess either in word or illustration. How many of us watching our television screens nightly could say, with hand on heart, that the drink companies are adhering strictly to the letter of those codes of conduct? The practice of advertising beers extensively while refraining from advertising spirits is difficult to justify since the intake of ethyl alcohol from beer in the quantities normally consumed in this country is as high, if not greater, than the intake from spirits. This information comes from the National Health Council. They suggest — and I endorse their suggestion — that there should be an adoption of international standards in the whole area of drink advertising. It is an area that perhaps we have allowed, through default, to make up its own rules as it goes along.

[2002] While there has been no great outcry from the public, the drink companies have been allowed to exploit the code of conduct by pushing the frontiers a little bit further each time they mount an advertising campaign. If they get away with that, they push them a little bit further in the next campaign and a little bit further to the point which has been reached today. I have outlined the directives as they should be applied to the drink companies in relation to media advertising, specifically television advertising. I find it hard to accept that the drink companies are adhering not just to the spirit, if one could use the pun, but to the letter of the law. The Government and the Minister can have some impact in that area and I hope he will bring his influence to bear in addressing this increasing problem of the exploitation of the strictly laid down guidelines and standards in advertising of drink specifically on television.

Images are far more effective than the written word. The old cliché of a picture telling a thousand words could not be truer in the context of drink advertising. How many of us have seen the macho man and the sophisticated lady eyeing each other across a bar counter and then at the end of it, the message coming through strong and clear — drink this particular product and you will be like them? Personally, I have no wish to be like either of them, but I believe it is a subtle form of conditioning which, in the context of the frightening statistics I have outlined about drink abuse in this country, has an important role to play.

I would like to turn briefly to some of the other aspects of the Bill, for example, the restaurant licences. I know these licences have been proposed by tourist interests on the basis that Ireland is now a modern sophisticated member of the European Community and has been lagging behind in its social trends particularly where drink is concerned and that tourists coming into this country have been frustrated by their inability to obtain drink with a meal which is the norm in other countries. I have no particular objection to restaurants having a licence [2003] to serve drink. However, I have often wondered why the incoming tourist has been used as a justification for introducing this new law.

Tourists traditionally coming from European countries apart from the ethnic tourists or former emigrants or their descendants tend to stay in hotels. If a tourist stays in a hotel, as a resident he is entitled to drink 24 hours a day. Most hotels have restaurants and he is entitled to have a drink as a resident. However, this has been proposed. It is not a particularly bad law in principle. I just hope it will not open the floodgates to the point where we have, as is the case in some European countries — Spain springs to mind — restaurant licences being given to every food takeaway outlet operating in the country. Perceptions of what is a meal, a substantial meal, have changed considerably. It may seem like an exaggeration but I would not be at all surprised once this law is in place to see fried chicken outlets, fast food takeaways, applying for licences because they are relatively cheap — £3,000.

Fast food outlets are really a licence to print money depending on their location and how they are managed. Obviously there would not be a proliferation of such fast food outlets in this country if they were not making money. The initial investment is quite small and there is a possibility, as the law is drafted, that with the minimum of structural alterations, such fast food outlets could apply and be granted a restaurant licence and could, therefore, sell alcoholic bevarages. I would think that that would be a retrograde step and it is something the Minister might reply to on Committee Stage when we go into the detail of the Bill.

I am very pleased indeed to see a proposal in relation to registered clubs. At last registered clubs are being brought into the same melting pot as other licensed premises. It always seemed to me an anachronism that a garda going about his or her duty had to go back to the inspector of the division if there was not one in the local police station and have that inspector either issue a warrant [2004] or be present in order to gain access to a club which should have been operating under the law. That provision is now being done away with. I am very pleased that registered clubs will now have access to the law and that, in turn, their obligations under the law will be highlighted more effectively and that the obligations under which they are given their licences will be strictly enforced. It was something which was causing enormous damage and certainly was a sensitive area between licensed establishments and sporting and other clubs who were applying for and receiving licences and in some cases, perhaps — I only say this in a general sense — abusing the licence.

I would like to turn to the question of exemptions. As the Minister is aware, there has been a great deal of lobbying, intensive lobbying, from the licensed trade but especially from the entertainment industry for some further relaxation of the exemption laws as they related to weekend social activity. The Minister has made it quite clear that he will enforce these new regulations strictly. I welcome that because, although the law does not recognise the rights of any licensed establishment to sell drink beyond 12 o'clock, in other words there is no exemption available after 12 o'clock, even the dogs in the street know a substantial number of entertainment outlets in this country have been flagrantly abusing the law and serving drink well into the early hours of Sunday morning. I add my voice to that of other Members of the House who have asked the Minister to look once again at this question of Saturday night exemptions. I recognise that social trends, behavioural trends in social activities, have changed dramatically over the last 20 years.

Indeed, the church was perhaps the first to recognise these changes by introducing Saturday evening Mass for its followers and for those who wish to avail of that. Consequently, particularly in city areas, Saturday night has become the premier night out. It is not so evident in rural areas. Sunday night has been traditionally and still is the night out. In concentrating my comments on Saturday [2005] night I really do believe that if the Minister does not concede on it now, it will not be very long before social pressures dictate the pace of change in this area and the Minister will have to give serious consideration to allowing extensions on Saturday night and Sunday morning in a particular set of circumstances.

As for the Sunday night extensions I share the Minister's concern about the level of absenteeism and about the economic damage being done as a result of that absenteeism on Monday mornings. I know there have been several surveys published and I am aware that the vested interests in this area have published very impressive statistics to refute that perception. The general public would, I think, accept that there is some merit in the Minister's case that Sunday night social activity should not have the same social importance as Saturday night or Friday night purely on the basis that most people have to get up for work on a Monday morning.

I can understand the Minister's concern about this and I share it to a degree on the social side. On a purely business and economic side, keeping in mind that the Minister's view is that there is widespread absenteeism and that there is a detrimental effect to the economy as a result of absenteeism on Monday mornings, I would also be failing in my duty if I were not to express to the Minister the very real concern of legitimate business interests about what they see as an inhibiting aspect of the legislation. This concerns one small time portion on a Sunday night. The new law provides that Sunday night pub closing is at 11 o'clock. Half an hour drinking up time brings it to 11.30 p.m. The Government are not changing the law on Sunday night-Monday morning exemptions. In other words, the same conditions will apply as have applied heretofore in relation to any legitimate licensed establishment applying to the courts for an exemption.

Here I am talking specifically about places of entertainment where there is Sunday night dancing. There is a tradition in this country which goes back a long long way that, for some strange unknown [2006] reason, most punters, as they are known in the music business, do not set out for Sunday night entertainment until very late. Perhaps it goes back to the time when drink was not so readily available in places of entertainment and people went to the local pub first and then they moved on to the “dry hall” as it was known. Anyway the practice has been well established over a long period of time. Most people going out on a Sunday night to a dance still adhere to the old practices and do not appear at the door of the dancehall-cum-hotel until very late at night. In some cases it would be as late as coming up on 11 o'clock. Where there are exemptions they probably will not turn up until well after 12 o'clock.

However, the difficulty for the licensee, once the new law is enacted, is that he can have his premises open until 11 o'clock with a drinking up time of a half hour which brings him to 11.30 p.m. If he has an exemption granted for that night he must then clear his premises for a half hour, close down, put the several hundred people or several dozen people, depending on the success of the night, on the street or outside of the area where drink is being served having already taken their money from them, and then tell them: “You cannot go back in there for a half hour,” re-open at 12 o'clock and continue for the remainder of the night. There is something in the argument being put forward to the Minister that is not quite right. It does not read right and, in practice, it certainly will not operate right. Again I ask the Minister and join with those of my colleagues who have asked him to address that problem and perhaps on Committee Stage we might hear his views following on the Second Stage contributions.

I make no apologies at all for saying that the law on exemptions has been abused down through the years. In that context, I welcome the Minister's commitment to enforce the law rigidly, fully and without mercy. I say that in the context of the earlier contribution I made on the abuse of alcohol by young people because it is young people in the main who attend such entertainment nights.

[2007] I would also like to draw the attention of the Minister to the difficulties being faced by people living in Border counties. I come from a Border county myself and I have to say that it sometimes seems to me, as someone living in a Border county, that successive Governments — and I am not singling out this Government or this Minister — seem to operate in a legislative vacuum. They draft and initiate legislation particularly in the taxation area which has a severe and far-reaching detrimental effect on the livelihoods of business people operating along the Border counties. This is of particular relevance to this legislation. One individual who has a business operating in County Donegal says his Northern Ireland competitors are just seven miles up the road and they enjoy such distinct advantages over him as VAT rates of 15 per cent as against our penal rate of 25 per cent. Their rates of excise duty are substantially below our rates which result in enormous differences between the prices of drinks on either side of the Border. For example a pint of beer in Derry costs 98p while a pint in Donegal costs £1.35.

The late night licences are granted en bloc in the annual licensing courts in Northern Ireland, or the Six Counties as I would prefer to call them, and a single licensing fee is paid just once at that time. Contrast that with the Republic where not only does one have to pay for all the necessary licences at the time of renewal but, in addition, a special exemption fee is also paid which is roughly around £100, including legal fees, and that is in respect of each separate exemption order.

I might add incidentally that I can understand the Government, any Government, wishing to continue with that practice as the more recent figures on exemptions relating to 1984 show that 40,330 exemptions were applied for and granted in the Republic of Ireland.

The criterion for granting late licences to restaurants and clubs in the Six Counties is that food must be available for customers, though not necessarily [2008] ordered by them, thus giving them a considerable advantage over their counterparts down South regarding the cost of their admission or cover charges. I mention this in the context of the proposal by the Minister to increase the value of what is perceived to be a substantial meal, from the old figure of £2 to £5. I accept that this is by way of ministerial order and will not necessarily become part of the legislation. I would like to suggest to the Minister that, where substantial meals are currently being served, in establishments which are strictly adhering to the letter of the law, the figure of £5 will have a damaging effect, first on business and secondly, on the consumer.

The usual rate for admission to dances where there are exemptions and where a meal is given is about £5. If the Minister introduces his order I have no doubt that, within a very short time, there will be significant increases in admission charges, which will hurt the consumer because the consumer, in this instance, will have little choice but to pay the admission charge asked for if he wishes to continue to enjoy musical entertainment. Therefore, I ask the Minister if he would consider revising downwards his proposal of £5, even to a figure of £4.

Senator Cregan amply demonstrated the different variations between what is a substantial meal in one local and what is a substantial meal in another. For some people a single of chips is a substantial meal and for others a five course meal with all the trimmings is a substantial meal. Generally speaking, these places of entertainment serve what is accepted in the courts of this land as a substantial meal. This cost is usually absorbed by the establishment concerned. They have to pay not only their normal overheads of staff, lighting and heating, but they also have to pay for live entertainment which, depending on the popularity of the particular act, can vary substantially. If that establishment is now going to be faced with having to increase the price of the food up to a figure of £5, that is not in the best interests of the consumer. I am talking about the consumer rather than the licensed establishment. I ask the [2009] Minister to give serious consideration to limiting his increase to something less than £5.

I would also like to suggest to the Minister, in the context of this Bill, that he might give serious consideration to the labelling of drinks in the same way that cigarettes are labelled. Indeed, this seems to be now happening in certain parts of the United States. California has recently introduced an Act in its State legislature providing that all alcoholic drinks will have to carry health warnings after 1 October 1988. The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a similar law and federal proposals have also been made in Congress in Washington. I do not have to go into the detail of the objection to alcohol. It falls into several categories. The damage caused by drunken driving and alcoholism in general is an old problem. The damage caused to unborn children by their mothers hitting the bottle is a more recent concern. There have been several cases of litigation against drink companies in the United States, specifically in California, in which these matters have been raised. The litigants claim that four children's birth defects, which include mental retardation and facial deformities, were caused by excessive drinking during their mothers' pregnancies and that the alcohol they drank should have carried warnings on the label.

The other new concern is that alcohol may cause cancer. Indeed, since July, in California, bottles of wine containing sulphites — often used as a preservative — have had to have this information on their labels. Sulphites can cause allergies in asthmatics. Spirits sometimes contain uretane, which is a by-product of fermentation and distillation, can cause cancer in some animals although it has not yet been proven that it can have a similar effect on humans. I ask the Minister to give some consideration to that. It should be a legal requirement. That might not be within his brief. It may be more in the area of his colleague, the Minister for Health, but serious consideration should be given to it. The general public have accepted the health [2010] warning on cigarette packets. It is now an accepted norm in our society. Yet the case is proven that the abuse of alcohol is a far greater threat than the abuse of cigarettes.

Finally, I should like to suggest to the Minister that, perhaps on Committee Stage or Report Stage, he might pass on some advice to licensed premises, the owners of which have been lobbying so hard and so intensively for improved hours, to the restaurant owners, who have been fighting so hard for the right to serve drink, all in the interest of the tourist. It might be interesting to put on the record of the House comments from Mr. Tony O'Brien, the managing director of Cantrell and Cochrane, in their staff bulletin of October 1987 in which he said:

There has been a gradual but definite decline in the level of business in pubs in recent times. This is a cause for concern, not just for pubs themselves where 35,000 people are employed, or for the drinks industry, which directly of indirectly provides jobs for 60,000 people. A decline in the pub trade has ramifications throughout the economy, most notably in Tourism and Agriculture.

A number of factors are influencing this decline — the desire by people to drink less for health and fitness reasons, drink driving legislation; resistance to high prices. However a most important factor is that Irish pubs by and large have failed to keep pace with the changing lifestyle of their customers. Personal sports, cheaper dining out, and even increased home consumption of alcohol are all stronger competition to pubs than they used to be. Publicans are going to have to respond to this competition to protect their business in the long term.

In the UK the management of pubs has become increasingly sophisticated and alert to consumer needs — hence the development of the traditional village pub, the community pub and the speciality pub. Standards of decor, [2011] comfort and range of services are constantly being extended and upgraded. The provision of excellent bar food, entertainment, games and related activities all day is now commonplace in many English pubs — and the customers are back. Ireland can learn from these developments.

I suggest to the licensed trade that, in the context of the Government's overall strategy to improve tourist earnings, they should look at the mote in their own eye and that when this new law is implemented, which gives them extended opening hours, they should also consider the non-drinker in the context of what Mr. O'Brien has been saying about providing a wide range of community, social and amenity style services.

In many cases the pub is the centre of local life style in small towns and villages. Why should it not respond to the needs of the community? Why should it be exclusively for people who nurse pints of beer or drink themselves silly on spirits all night? Why should it not have more to offer? If, as the law has suggested, young people are to be increasingly found in public houses, albeit with their parents, there is a responsibility on the licensed trade to respond to this new challenge. I hope they will do so and that they will also provide a wide range of non-alcoholic beverages for those of us, like myself, who do not drink but who still frequent pubs for the camaraderie, for the conviviality and the crack, as it is generally known in Ireland.

On that note of advice to the licensed trade, I welcome the provisions of this Bill, particularly those which will curb under-age drinking. I hope that at long last this country, given the lead by the Government, will start to break down the unacceptable acceptability of the abuse of alcohol so that we can have a better country and the next generation of Irish people will not be brought up in a pub culture.

Mr. Harte: Information on John Jack Harte  Zoom on John Jack Harte  At this time in the debate on Second Stage it would be crazy to go [2012] over many of the points that have already been dealt with. People would very soon become bored. These points have been well and truly made. I shall therefore not employ generalities for safety sake but for their own sake and avoid repetition as far as possible.

Looking at the question of the licensing laws and all it entails, I would say that you can take the man out of the country but you cannot take the country out of the man. We have habits and traditions that have grown through the years and changing laws in respect of habits and traditions of people must be done slowly and circumspectly and not too often. Publicans in Ireland generally have been tried and trusted. Like any other major lobby group or any other special interest group, they have had their difficulties with the mavericks within their own ranks, but they have this distinction. We are talking about giving concessions in the Bill to restaurant owners — we cannot avoid giving them concessions — but they are not in fact tried and trusted people like the publicans on the basis of our own tradition down through the years. Therefore, naturally, a person like myself who has been using pubs as a social outlet for the best part of my life, since I was 17 years of age, will feel that the people who should be watched more in this Bill are those who are getting the concessions. If you give one foot to somebody it becomes a one foot and a half. That is where the problem starts. I can understand publicans who are well-established not only in business houses but in good family houses, having some anxiety and concern about concessions to those who run restaurants in regard to the risk of abuses creeping in and putting the pubs at a disadvantage from the point of view of competitiveness.

We must, however, look at the whole question of a review of the licensing laws. We all know that is necessary; we all know that it is overdue. Some of the Acts have been around for a long time. Our approach to improving them which has been on a 20 year basis may not seem a bad idea when dealing with traditions, habits and behaviour of citizens in their [2013] social environment. Various Governments have seen this and interference in the Acts has been slow in coming and not too frequent. This Bill follows that pattern and I see merit in it.

When you initiate any law, particularly a law in this area, and then add to or take away from it over a period of 65 years or so, it not only becomes untidy but very complex indeed. I can understand that. That is why the Minister has had a problem in coming to terms with special interest groups and needs in the competitive sense and in the social sense. The publicans see themselves as not being treated on an equal basis with restaurants. They may have one or two other complaints but, overall, I do not think they have any great grievance about the Bill. They have not expressed it. In general they have looked after us all well down through the years and observed our laws well, but they also have recognised the need for substantial change.

It is their business; it is their livelihood and they have a point of view about conflicting interests. Where there is a conflicting interest there will always be a lobby in any democratic system. This presents great problems for the Minister. He tried to meet the overall requirements. He has an unenviable task. He will do his best to get as close as possible to meeting all views. In the final analysis, I have a lot more concern for the publicans in this Bill because they are tried and trusted. We are merely going to test out the other people and see if we trust them. We must recognise that the public interest is paramount and, therefore, it is not a question of the Minister making these concessions to the restaurant owners as distinct from the existing publicans who are the trusted people.

The Minister has not been put out too much by the whole thing. I do not think the lobby has confused him. The Minister for Justice cannot meet every whim or fad. He certainly cannot solve all the problems. The Minister has done a great deal in this area. The real problem is that we have those special interest groups. We are a member of the EC and the habits of people in European countries are [2014] gradually, day by day, becoming our habits and it naturally follows, from both an economic point of view and a tourist point of view that concessions will have to be given to the restaurants.

I am keen on supporting the Bill also because there is the possibility of creating extra jobs. I do not know whether the rod licence problem might be circumvented by a loss in jobs in another area. At the moment we are grasping at straws and if there is an opportunity to create extra work we must welcome it. That is socially desirable and something we should always look at even with a little bias in favour of the economy. I do not think any of us can leave our biases outside the door. My bias is in favour of jobs. Certainly, it will not solve the unemployment problem but when a package is put before the Dáil, whether it is to make sure that people do not break the law or that people get a better advantage within the law, or a mixture of both, once the package has something socially desirable in it we should go as far as we can to come to terms with it. In this case the question of creating extra jobs is part of the whole; it is certainly not the whole but at least there is a possibility of some jobs being created.

Overall, I do not think the effects will be harmful. The publicans are “tough customers”. They can take care of themselves when it comes down to cases. They will have difficulties. The restaurants can have meals ongoing on a consistent basis; they have the facilities and the premises etc. to do that, but an ordinary family house or a small pub around the Liberties, or somewhere else like that, will not be able to put up a meal around midnight when people come in late. The money is not flush now and people come in a bit later to drink. The publican may have a small shop or a shop that is not geared to producing a meal so obviously he is at some disadvantage compared with the restaurant owner who has the seating facilities. This is a matter of concern and it is a challenge to the publicans. They may not be able to overcome it in regard to the night situation but it is a matter for them now to get their heads [2015] together and see what they can do in further developing midday operations and perhaps take up a bit more of the market in that area. I can see a reason for their concern. They are the people we have tried and trusted down through the years and now somebody else is coming into the market who is liable to put them at a disadvantage and it is only right that they should make a few noises about it.

They are at a greater disadvantage with regard to the identity card. I am not so sure about this identity card. I would not go on strike over it but the point is that I am not sure about it. It is not going to be very easy on a Saturday night if, say, a publican has been working hard all week and his wife gets sick at the end of it and he has to leave the shop in the hands of the foreman or the barman. Usually it is a busy night and somebody under age may come in and be accidently served. It is very hard to be sure about the age. The publican is responsible — not the person who actually serves the drink — even though he may be on leave, or on holiday, or sick, or absent for some other reason. There is this kind of difficulty to worry about.

I am little worried about the trends in IDs. If you want to join a video library now you have to produce three or four pieces of plastic to identify yourself. Somebody wants to see your old pension card or your bus pass and, on top of that, they want to see your membership cards of other clubs. This is the sort of society we are getting into where everybody has to produce identity cards. I can understand it in the case of under-age drinking, I note here that the cider industry is showing concern about it. That problem is a different one because they are talking about off-licences. It is much easier to check out a person coming into an off-licence where it is more like a grocery business than a pub and the barman is running up and down like a lunatic trying to get five drinks pulled or a mixed order of drinks etc. The person in the off-licence can see the customer clearly; he is buying separately; he is not going in [2016] for groceries; he is going in for cider and therefore he is more easily identifiable. It does not matter what surveys you take, it is easy to find out that people do not want under-age drinking. They certainly do not want cider sold to under-age customers. We must draw a distinction between a pub and an off-licence in that respect. In regard to the ID cards if it went too far for them, publicans could be put at a very serious disadvantage as against both restaurants and off-licences.

The other point I want to make is in regard to children in pubs. I would be the last in the world to advocate allowing children in pubs. As a former trade union official representing Guinness, I got involved in fund-raising for counsellors on alcoholism. I was also involved in visiting people who were victims of alcoholism. Therefore, I can say with some experience that perhaps there is the occasional publican, for example, who allows children into his pub on Sunday morning where a wife wants to meet her husband, when they are going off for the day. Or perhaps a family have moved from the inner city or moved out from the town and are living in the country and they want to come in to town to have a drink and a couple of the children are brought with them while the grandmother is at home cooking the dinner. While they are waiting for the dinner they are all having a little social sort of drink in the area.

Many publicans have let this kind of thing happen through the years but on the other hand many people have come out of that atmosphere who are now Franciscans, Dominicans, missionaries and executives. One or two of them may be alcoholics but they did not start by going into pubs as children. The publicans know people. They get to know their people much better than anybody else because there is a two-way communication process there. They are much more deeply involved with their customers than in other cases even more so than restaurant owners, due to the more infrequent visits to the restaurants.

The publican down through the years has gone through this whole process and [2017] more than likely he can tell you who is the victim and the beneficiary in the use of alcohol. He did not set out to make them one or the other but for some reason going into a pub when they were children never affected them and they grew up very well indeed. They know what they are doing, by and large, and they can be trusted in that area. We might be putting too much emphasis on the matter of children being in pubs. We have no real evidence to prove that the people who commit crime or become alcoholics come out of that environment.

I do not know the position about clubs. One of the problems is that a lot of clubs have been established a long time. For example, if we take the Garda Síochána Club, what is the position there? I am not quite clear on this. I am being quite honest about it; I am not quite sure. The Garda Síochána Club is run very well indeed, an extremely good club, a wonderful place for a social gathering. Are we heading in the direction of saying in this Bill that a barman or an off-duty garda cannot actually serve in that pub, or in that bar? I am not sure whether the Bill makes this clear. Perhaps the Minister might sort this out for me. Many people give their services for “half-nothing” to make the club a viable proposition. I would not want to see a lot of clubs growing up under the Bill. I am not talking about that. I am talking about something that exists, I am not looking for a growth in it. In fact, I would not like to see a growth in it. The balance has got to be kept there because you are talking about people making a livelihood and rearing a family through selling drink and other people running bars for social purposes to keep their clubs going. There is a great distinction and I can understand that distinction. These are a few of the worrying things in the Bill that are not quite clear to me and I hope when the Minister replies he will clear them up.

There is also the difficult question of people being found on the premises. I have been in pubs where you have the publican shouting his head off. I am at the stage now, in one particular pub, where I get irritated. Very often I feel [2018] like exploding and but for the fact that the man is too big for me and I am too old, I might get up and say: “Will you get off my back?” The fact is that publicans persecute you from the time they put the lights out and give you the last drink. They are trying to get you off the premises. That may not apply to 100 per cent of them but a lot of them are like that. I am very concerned. It is a little bit harsh to start talking about a £300 to £500 fine for the first offence.

In England they throw a towel across the pumps when the time is up, and that is it. You can sit there as long as you like, but there is no more drink. Once the towel is thrown across the pumps, that is the end of it. Some places have a shutter and they pull down the shutter, and that is the end of that. There are still people you cannot get off the premises, but there is no drink being served. That side of the matter needs a little bit of consideration.

I cannot see things getting to the point where fast food business will be looking for licences. It seems an unnecessary sort of concern. I hope I am right because it will be a drastic development if hamburger joints get the right to serve drink. It might be said that the door is ajar and the foot is in and some further pressure from the special interest groups might come with others lobbying for an extension. Frankly, I cannot see that because, as I said earlier, having regard to the slow rate of change in the liquor law which made it complex as I admitted, I cannot see any intelligent Government, no matter who they are, getting to the point where they will allow that. I think they will hold to the different type of restaurant where there must be a substantial sit-down meal served by a waitress. It is no harm putting it on the record that we believe it will not get to that and I have enough confidence to say that I do not think it will.

On the question of extra Sunday time, psychologically one wonders whether the extra hour on the Sunday night is of great value. The publicans are not going mad for it, because it probably will cost them extra money and they may not pick up that extra money taking labour costs into [2019] account. People's habits are changing now; they are coming in that bit later. If you are open an hour later, people will go in an hour later. if you decided, for example, to leave the pubs open until 1 a.m., for some reason the fellow who used go in at, say, 10.45 p.m. and have two pints between 10.45 p.m. and 11.30 p.m. will be coming in after 12 o'clock to have his two pints. He is not going to change from the two pints — that is his budget, his habit and his behavioural pattern.

I do not know then what to say about the Sunday extra time. Probably it is good psychologically in the sense that a man says: “I am used to going in around 10 o'clock on a normal night and getting two pints and I can have them at ease. If it is open now on a Sunday night for an extra hour, I can probably have an extra pint in comfort and I will not be too long there”. Whether it will do very much about the question of absenteeism and whether there is enough evidence that the Sunday night drinking is really responsible for absenteeism are other questions. There is the whole matter of weekend drinking. Somebody may get drunk in the general hours on a Saturday, go home and fall asleep in the chair and go out again and start to drink about 7 o'clock on Saturday night and then he is into it again on Sunday.

Take a long-distance lorry driver, for example, a fellow who comes back from the country. He is out all the week and is living out of a plastic bag, in guesthouses and all the rest of it. He is liable to spend the weekend in a pub; it is not unknown. If you mix in pubs, you will see them. Those men are on their own on Monday morning in their cars and they have had heavy, heavy bouts — not all of them but some of them — and you wonder, whether drink is really the cause of absenteeism. Have we gone into this enough? Have we researched it? I have some doubts about it. There may be many other reasons. Quite frankly, I am not sold on the idea that we will solve absenteeism by increasing Sunday opening hours. If we increased the hours for all [2020] of the week, I doubt very much that it would have effect on the question of absenteeism on Monday morning. For a number of reasons people become indifferent. The classes of people who are absent are never broken down in surveys. For example, are many unmarried men absent on a Monday morning when they have not got a responsibility to a wife and family and so on? Many others are a little bit off balance anyway, on a Monday morning; they are not feeling like making an effort.

Where do you go in your surveys and how do you break them down? What is the real evidence there that the few extra drinks on a Saturday or Sunday night, or something like that, are the cause of absenteeism? There is no clear-cut evidence and, as a consequence, I would be very concerned that we are attributing absenteeism in toto to drink when, in fact, there might be many other factors involved if the number of absentees was broken down in a much more detailed fashion. There might be many other reasons than the fact that someone has had too much drink. When I was working as a labourer I often had a very heavy night's drinking but I would be at work at 6.30 a.m. or 7 a.m. unloading boats at the North Wall and I would work until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. It was mostly manual work because there were no machines at that time. By and large we all drank but we were not absent from work on Monday mornings. However, I can only talk about my own experience.

I am not sold on the idea of blaming alcohol for absenteeism. A lot of it has to do with the nature of the person and his sense of responsibility. Maybe the argument can be made that given a few extra drinks an irresponsible fellow will become more irresponsible but by and large that has not been my experience.

I was interested to hear that some publicians think there will be abuses due to the longer opening hours. I was pleased to read in the Bill that the Minister has taken the precaution of having licences renewed every year and that people will be able to object if there are [2021] continuing abuses. I will deal with some of the amendments on Committee Stage but in general I welcome the Bill.

Miss Wallace: Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  I welcome the Intoxicating Liquor Bill, 1988. It is a most difficult and tedious undertaking to try to achieve a balance in legislation which is of great concern to hoteliers, publicans, restaurateurs and the public. This legislation has huge implications for restaurants, hotels and public houses. It also strives to provide an improvement in the service to the public while bringing in important regulations to attempt to deal with under-age drinking.

We all appreciate the tremendous social enjoyment which is attached to alcohol but there is no doubt that the misuse of alcohol leads to many domestic, financial, social, legal and employment problems. It not only affects individuals but also the people to whom they are closest and, in particular their families.

With regard to the financial and employment effects of the Bill, it is important to note that absenteeism from work costs this country an enormous amount each year. One-third of this absenteeism is directly attributable to alcohol. It is with all of these problems in mind that we have to view any changes in the licensing laws. The Bill before us today deals with three main areas, the special restaurant licence, changes in public house closing time and regulations to curb under-age drinking.

In relation to the special restaurant licence, I believe it is crucial to ensure the enforcement of the restricted element of the restaurant licence in that alcohol should not be served to people in restaurants who are not eating a substantial meal. This is very important and is absolutely essential to prevent restaurants having a distinct and unfair advantage over public houses. It is crucial that public houses are protected and are not placed at an unfair disadvantage. The serving of alcohol in restaurants must be confined to people who have ordered a substantial meal and this is a necessary element in the approval of the special restaurant licence.

[2022] I welcome the requirement of approved standards before the Bord Fáilte certificate necessary for the special restaurant licence is issued. This is a very necessary and important inclusion as it is crucial to ensure that the licences are issued only to restaurants where a full menu is provided and where people are partaking of a substantial meal. I acknowledge the present difficulty that in order to obtain a licence to sell alcohol one has to extinguish a previous licence by purchasng it. There is merit, particularly from a tourism point of view, of allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages with substantial meals but we must be assured that this will be limited and confined to high-class restaurants. I appreciate the Minister's assurance in the House last week in relation to fish and chip shops. It is important to ensure that a restaurant must be a high quality establishment before it can obtain one of the special restaurant licences.

In relation to the changes in pub closing time, it is important to note that the present times have not been changed for the past 25 years. It is appropriate and important that the situation is being reviewed at this time. Some people consider that no restrictions on closing time would lead to an improvement. I can see some merit in that suggestion but nevertheless, I would be concerned about its implication here. I have seen it in operation in the States and certainly it seems to work there but there is a huge difference between their customes and traditions and ours. I would have grave concern about its implementation here and from the publican's point of view there would be huge staffing implications, particularly in rural Ireland where business might not be as brisk all day long.

The increase in drinking up time ten minutes to half an hour will certainly be an improvement as distinct from the present position where customers are served a drink in a relaxed manner and then shouted at to go home. From the publican's point of view the half hour will allow for feasible compliance with the law instead of the present situation where, after ten minutes, the customers are breaking the law and the publicans are responsible for allowing them to do [2023] so on their premises. The last speaker drew attention to the difficulties faced by publicans in clearing their premises. Certainly the English system of throwing a cover over the counter has its merits. We are all familiar with the scene where customers completely ignore the best efforts of publicans and their staff to clear the premises.

I would like to refer to under-age drinking which is a serious social problem. The provisions in this Bill to combat the problem are most welcomed. Under section 33 and 35 young people under 18 can, for the first time, be charged and it will be an offence for under 18s to be on any part of a licensed premises to which an extension order applies. These improvements should lessen the abuse of alcohol by young teenagers particularly at late night discos and street parties. The extra powers given to the Garda are very important and warmly welcomed particularly in the communities that have been affected by street parties and the resulting damage to property and the unfortunate youths who have been involved.

The sections of the legislation which deal with the increasing problem of under-age drinking are crucial at this point but it is vital that parents provide control and direction to young teenagers if this problem is to be overcome. The role of the home is crucial in this effort to curb under-age drinking. I am certain that the efforts now being made to tackle this problem will have an effect but the availability of the suggested identity cards is essential for its full implementation. I note the Minister's intention of bringing in the necessary regulation for these cards but I would stress the urgency of this requirement in order to implement fully the sections of the Bill relating to under-age drinking. There is no doubt it is difficult to distinguish the ages of young people in the 15 to 20 age group and I sympathise with business people and their staff for whom unintentional error may mean prosecution.

Before I finish I want to compliment the Minister on the evident attention to [2024] detail which has been given in this legislation. The one point which strikes me about this Bill is that the Minister has achieved an acceptable balance between all the interested groups. It is impossible, of course, to completely satisfy everyone but the Minister has certainly made every effort to protect the various interests while, at the same time, keeping the public interest paramount.

Mr. Kelleher: Information on Peter Kelleher  Zoom on Peter Kelleher  I agree with Senator Mooney that it is very hard to measure the damage alcohol abuse has done to this country, both economic damage and damage in relation to human suffering. The loss of production because of absenteeism is huge and it is to be seen in industry every day of the week. I would disagree with Senator Harte in this respect. I think alcoholism has a huge bearing on absenteeism, not to mention the huge health bill of £39 million, which was mentioned by Senator Mooney which is the very frightening figure allocated for health care as a direct result of alcoholism. Senator Cregan painted a very dire picture of what he has seen in his capacity as a publican and what he has seen happening to families as a result of excessive drinking. He was talking in particular, about young people and young people with young families.

These are some of the reasons I welcome the introduction of this Bill. In particular I welcome the section in the Bill relating to the curbing of drink abuse, especially under-age drinking. This section is similar to the one in the Private Members' Bill introduced by the Fine Gael Party earlier this year. The provisions in Part IV in regard to under-age drinking constitute an important move in the right direction. It is a key concept that those who are underage and who are presently purchasing drink will be made responsible under the provisions of this Bill. Those licensees who are serving under-age drinkers should also have the rigours of the law imposed on them as should anybody who purchases drink and supplies it to an under-age drinker in a public place. I am sure the vast majority of publicans, off-licence holders, hotel or [2025] restaurant owners are as concerned about the problems of under-age drinking as any one else and welcome some change in this area.

The removal of the word “knowingly” from the legislation will undoubtedly cause problems in the running of a business. The onus will now be placed on the publican to be aware that the people he serves are all over 18 years of age. It would be much easier if identity cards were introduced. At present the Macroom vintners have a pilot scheme in operation and they have notices placed in different licensed premises advising that anyone over 18 years can get an identity card if they supply a birth certificate and a £6 application fee. This identify card would be of a great benefit to any person in the 18 years, 19 years or 20 years bracket who may look much younger than 18 years of age. It would, of course, also take the responsibility away from the publican. Some people are very much against the issuing of identity cards or requiring people to have ID cards. That is wrong because those of us in the Oireachtas have to carry ID cards. There is nothing wrong with having an ID card on your person. I am sure this measure would find all-party agreement as the legislation as it is now proposed does nothing to help the licensee in this area.

Part of the reason for the growth in teenage drinking is that teenagers have much more freedom, and in particular, financial freedom. The growth of off-licences and supermarkets which sell drink means that drink is now available to everybody. There are no restrictions on teenagers entering supermarkets where a wide variety of wines, beers and cider, etc. are available on a self-service basis. Alcohol available in this way is much more accessible than alochol sold over the counter in a licensed premises. With the volume of business going through supermarkets it is easy for any teenager to purchase any type of alcohol as a normal part of the groceries without any questions being asked. This is an indication of the size of the problem we face in this area. This problem may be more acute in urban areas rather than in rural [2026] areas where there is a tendency to have drinking parties which finish up the joyriding, rape, assault etc. Many serious crimes have been committed by young people as a result of these so-called drinking parties.

I welcome the provision in the Bill which states that intoxicating liquor may be sold in mixed premises such as supermarkets only from a separate drinks counter and may not be sold from a self-service. As I said earlier, supermarkets provide accessible alcohol to teenagers and are a source of widespread abuse. As this is a new regulation I agree with the Minister that supermarkets will need some time to adjust their sales methods in this regard but I would support regular checking of the system once the regulations are in force. It should be possible for a sales person or persons to minimise the sale of alcohol to teenagers under this system.

This Bill represents the first major reform of the licensing laws since 1962. I was a Member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Small Businesses under the previous Government. That committee made a number of recommendations relating to the licensed trade and these were contained in a report published in April 1985. At that time we were studying the tourism trade and related industries. Some of the recommendations have already been implemented and this Bill comes close to meeting a few others. I will deal with a number of the recommendations in the report and show how this Bill has responded to them.

The committee recommended that closing hours should be fixed on a seven day basis at 11.30 p.m. all the year round with a drinking up time of 30 minutes and that on New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day closing should be at 1 a.m. They also suggested that the holy hour from 2.30 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. in Cork and Dublin should be abolished. In section 25 of the Bill the Minister has come very close to what the committee recommended except that he has confined the closing times to 11 p.m. in the winter months and did not give the extended time for [2027] St. Patrick's Day and New Year's Eve. I welcome section 27 of the Bill as it extends the drinking up time from ten to 30 minutes and this is in line with the committee's recommendations. I am glad that the holy hour has been abolished since the logic of its existence always defeated me. The extension of closing time on Sunday night to 11 p.m. is again in line with the thinking of the committee. The essential view of the committee was that licensed premises should be vacated by midnight.

Another of their recommendations deals with clubs and states that licensing laws should be standardised for all lounge bar outlets, for example, restrictions on Garda supervision on clubs should be abolished and extensions to pubs should be available in line with those to clubs. Section 42 of the Bill makes it clear that registered clubs must forbid the sale of intoxicating liquor to persons under the age of 18. Section 43 puts registered clubs on the same footing as licensed premises in relation to inspections by gardaí. Section 44 places registered clubs and licensed premises on the same level in so far as the right to the objection of renewal of a certificate or a licence is concerned. All of these provisions are to be welcomed and many members of the licensed trade will feel they are now being dealt with more fairly under the law.

The committee recommended that responsibility for vacating a licensed premises should rest with the customer, on-the-spot fines should be introduced and existing penalties for customers found on a premises should be increased from £5 to £25. The Bill does not provide for on-the-spot fines but it does increase the minimum fine from £1 to £25 and the maximum from £5 to £50. Even though responsibility for leaving the licensed premises was not put on the customer, I have no doubt that a threat of a minimum fine of £25 or a maximum fine of £50 will help a customer to leave that little bit faster. The increase in drinking up time could also help to alleviate this problem.

The final recommendation of the commitee was that children accompanied and [2028] fully supervised by parents should be allowed on licensed premises until 6 p.m. Section 34 of the Bill provides that a person under the age of 15 years may be present on a licensed premises during normal hours if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Section 35 of the Bill makes it an offence for both the licence holder and the under-age person concerned, for anyone under the age of 18 to be on the part of licensed premises to which an exemption order applies. Section 36 restricts the presence of under-age persons in off-licences. I am pleased that the Minister took on board some of the recommendations of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Small Businesses when drafting this legislation and is now implementing certain sections of it.

Part II of this Bill deals with the granting of special restaurant licences. This has been a very contentious area for publicans. Very strong representations have been made to Senators on all sides of the House on this section of the Bill. The Vintners' Federation of Ireland expressed concern at the granting of certificates to all and sundry. I would be satisfied if the type of restaurant envisaged under the Bill was one which served a high class meal and was a bona fide restaurant. Not every restaurant will come within the definition in the Bill, but we need to cater for the needs of the tourist trade. We need to bring ourselves into line with what pertains on the Continent and provide facilities, particularly in the summer time, so that people can avail of a meal with a drink.

I am anxious to know why a person has to apply to the Circut Court for a restaurant licence. I believe this should be done at local level through the District courts. These courts are more widely distributed and more in contact with what goes on in the community. As the section stands if one has to appeal one would have to go to a High Court and incur the huge expenses and delays which are normal in this court. We should use the District Court and then have recourse to the Circuit Court in the event of an appeal.

The representative association for the [2029] licensed trade are fearful for the livelihood of their members and have asked, in the event of restaurants being licensed, that the following conditions be met: (1) licences should be granted only under the most stringent and enforceable conditions; (2) they should not be granted to fast food outlets or similar establishments and (3) there should be no bar or waiting area in a licensed restaurant. I think the Bill meets most of the above. They have also lobbied for the same opening hours as restaurants to enable them to compete on an equal footing. The Bill does not provide for this and perhaps the Minister will give reasons for not adhering to this request.

Mr. Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I want to make a few points on this very important legislation but before I do I want to say that it is great to see the Minister, Deputy Smith, in the House today. A few short months ago he was a Member of Seanad Éireann and a very distinguished Member of our side of the House. I am very pleased that he is with us today. I shared an office with him for five and a half years and I know of his enormous ability. I am sure he will make a tremendous contribution to this Bill.

I have heard the various points made by other speakers and I do not want to duplicate them. Most of them are valid points but because many people want to speak — and I do not want to keep the Seanad here until 3 a.m. as happened last night——

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  At least it took all of the Fianna Fáil Party to shut me up.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Doyle): Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  Senator Cassidy without interruption.

Mr. Cassidy: Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  I welcome the Bill because I think it is long overdue. When the previous Minister was in the House in 1983 I made a few recommendations to him. I had studied the law on liquor in Canada and Germany, and I recommended the introduction of ID cards. I am glad that this is now being introduced. It should be compulsory for anyone who [2030] attends a bar extension to carry an ID card so that, if required, they can be shown to the people and clubs organising the functions. I have dealings with young people five nights a week and I am alarmed at the enormous numbers of young people who try to get into licensed premises during extensions. Up to now responsibility for proving their age rested with the hotelier, publican or the person running a bar extension and I am delighted that the Minister has taken steps to correct this in the Bill.

I welcome the extra opening hour on Sunday evenings. You would see people leaving a pub on a Sunday evening at 10.15 p.m. when the sun was going down. They did not go into pubs until 9 p.m. or 9.30 p.m. on a Sunday, and that extra hour must be welcomed.

I take exception to two parts of the Bill. I believe the law is broken in 500 different places in the country every Saturday night by the sale of drink after 11 p.m. or 11.30 p.m. If the restaurant licence is implemented in the spirit that the Government intend, I fully accept it, but as Senator McGowan said earlier legislation should be strict and simple so that it can work successfully.

I do not agree that the proposed provisions in relation to the licensing of restaurants will be able to be implemented or protected by the Garda Síochána. If I am unfortunate to get one of these restaurant licences and I serve a meal at 12.30 a.m. it is not unusual for that meal to go on until 3.30 a.m. or 4 a.m. If people were having a business meeting or a social get together, their last drink could be left on the table until all hours and they would not have to leave the restaurant until 7 a.m. If the Garda inspect the restaurant there is no way I can prove they were served their last drink 12 o'clock at night or whatever time.

I know many people have been waiting for this legislation to be passed. Leeson Street is the hot spot in Ireland and I know of 12 premises there awaiting this legislation. Some of them have secured the cellars in these premises and have offered a large amount of money to staff [2031] in order to be prepared for this legislation. One owner openly boasted the other night that he was looking forward to this legislation being introduced, and said: “I do not care what Bord Fáilte want. If they want 15 waitresses per table I will supply them but just imagine being able to serve liquor under the counter at 6 a.m. and you cannot be caught.”

I want the law to be as tight as possible in this area. A time for last orders should be provided for in the Bill. If this is not provided for I do not think there is any way the Garda, with the best spirit in the world, can implement the law. If we draw up legislation that cannot be supervised and implemented, then we are not worthy to be legislators. When one considers the amount of money that is involved in the sale of liquor and the 300 per cent mark-up on wine in these establishments, one can imagine what these establishments will make when they can have a full licensed bar available for the serving of drink 24 hours a day. At present one of these restaurants serves breakfasts and last orders are taken at 9 a.m. This is happening without the guidance of the law and if we give them a shove with this restaurant licences we will open a door that has an enormous amount of dangers.

I want to speak on behalf of the hotels. They have done their utmost in difficult times over the past two or three years to keep staff employed, to keep standards up to Bord Fáilte requirements, to pay the VAT man, to pay the PAYE and everything involved in the running of a business. I can honestly say to the Minister that 70 per cent of the hotels in this country at present are depending on one night a week entertainment, a club dance, a disco or a dance with a live band. As a Senator from Cork said here this morning — he was talking about The Western Road — there is only one pub on that street at the moment but there are a dozen guesthouses and they are all entitled to this special restaurant licence. They are all entitled to run their licensed shebeens because that is what they will [2032] be. This will be an excuse to licence a shebeen.

We heard many Senators welcoming the change in the legislation as I do, to bring controls on clubs to the same level as the controls on ordinary pubs and hotels which can have an instant inspection by the Garda Síochána. While we are closing one loophole, we are opening another that can never be tightened or closed. I thought long and hard about it because I could see the various problems the hoteliers were pointing out to me. I said they were telling the Minister what not to do, but not telling him what to do. Their message was that the last meal would have to be served at a set time and all meals would have to be finished at a certain time.

I do not know of anywhere in Ireland where I can order a four course meal after midnight or 12.30 a.m. at present. This is adequate to meet the demands of the tourist industry and the local trade. As a matter of fact, as one who was very closely associated with the tourist industry over the past four or five years, I know that tourists get up very early in the morning and go to bed very early at night with the exception, I would say, of fishermen. No one wants very late meals. No one wants meals after 12 o'clock at night unless they want to use the premises for shebeen purposes. If those who want to use them for shebeen purposes are locals, God help the employer who has to take them in the following morning to do a day's work at 8 a.m. Senator Harte referred to this very important cause of absenteeism at work. That has to be borne in mind.

Seventy per cent of hotels are depending on functions one night a week. Those of us fortunate enough to be still in the entertainment business know it is only a Saturday night and Sunday night business. It is vitally important that they are looked after on Sunday night. The new legislation proposes that on Sunday night no bar exemption can be got after 1 o'clock — 1 o'clock I believe is the correct hour because it goes hand in hand with the North of Ireland legislation. We can all be home by 2 o'clock in time to [2033] go to bed for work the next morning. The section of the Act which lays down conditions for getting the bar extension from midnight to 1 a.m. points out that at 11 o'clock you have a half an hour drinking up time then you must put out your club members, your wedding party, or whoever you have in on your premises for your special exemption or take all the drinks from them at 11.30 p.m. and stop everything until midnight. That is unreasonable. It was probably an oversight by the draftsmen in preparing this Bill and I look forward to amending it on Committee Stage. It is just not workable. There is no point in having a bar extension on a Sunday night if you cannot say: “I can give you from 9 o'clock to 1 o'clock but you must have your function finished at 1 o'clock.”

In relation to the Saturday night regulations — many speakers referred to this already — 80 per cent of those running functions on Saturday nights are breaking the law. Definitely 80 per cent of those running functions on a Saturday night outside Dublin are breaking the law. I told that to many of my colleagues and many of them did not know this was the case. You cannot obtain a bar extension past midnight on a Saturday night. Everyone must be off the premises at midnight. There is a social necessity on a Saturday night for people to get together and have a drink. Saturday night is now the big social night of the week to go out. It was not so in the past because — and I see the Chruch's point of view — people had to get up and go to Church the following morning. Now over half the population of this island do their weekend duty on Saturday evening. Therefore, it is very wise to bring back the hour on Sunday night because most of the people are going out to enjoy themselves on Saturday now. It brings us into line with Northern Ireland. It also give us an opportunity to stop breaking the law and the Garda will not be seen as a farce force every Saturday night around the country.

Last Saturday night I visited three different venues in the one town, all serving liquor from 1 o'clock to 1.15 a.m. to 1.20 a.m. I invite the Minister or any of [2034] his officials — who are probably gone past the entertainment age — to come with me any Saturday night and I will show them what is really happening on the ground. The street level operator can never deny the truth and the reality of what is happening down there. There is no reason in the world why the State cannot gain from the bar extensions. People would gladly pay their £96 as they are doing for other nights of the week and live within the law. At present they are doing this because they have no option and they want to keep their doors open. They want to pay their PAYE and keep their staff employed.

Running a hotel nowadays is a difficult job, to say the least of it. The number one priority for anyone running a hotel and balancing the books is to pay their VAT every two months. We know how strict the VAT collection has become. You have to pay your staff. You have to pay your entertainers. You may want to stay within the law and close up on a Saturday night but your neighbour up the road can run until 1 a.m. or 1.15 a.m. He has to do it to stay in business and survive as well. This area needs to be looked into on Committee Stage. If I were asked before the Bill came to this House how I would improve the liquor laws, I would have said: “Bringing them into line on a Saturday night; it is a social necessity; the modern day social change”.

I do not need to speak any longer because I know there are other speakers offering. On under-age drinking and ID cards, I had intended to say a good deal, but I heard Senator Mooney giving all the different statistics, the facts and figures and they speak for themselves. I will give Senators an idea of how bad it is in the country. Last year one team in the under 16s final in a particular county, which I follow every week, were tipped to win the final. Ten minutes after the second half, the father of one of the players — the centre half-back — ran up the sideline and said: “If you were not drunk last night you would be able to hurl today”. When I inquired afterwards why he said it — he is a dear friend of mine; I hurled with him for many years; we [2035] were on the county team — he said to me: “There were eight of our fellows drunk in such and such a pub at 2 o'clock this morning”. That is how the law of this country on under-age drinking is being enforced. I call on the Minister to put his foot down on breaches of the law.

The Garda must be strict with licensed premises; when they are supposed to be open they should be open and when they are supposed to be closed they should be closed. As one who was involved with a licensed premises in the city of Dublin I must say as far as I am concerned it is enforced to the last letter of the law, but from practical experience, that is not he case in the country areas. It may be that the people in the country areas are under such pressure to keep their businessses, they have to do business after hours.

I think if enforcement was uniform all over the place, and if everyone knew they had to get out at the same time, then publicans and hoteliers would not have to trade after hours for the survival of their business. That is why I am inclined to agree with the suggestion by a previous Senator, who said the onus should be put on the customer, by heavier fines, because if that is the case and if you are going to be fined £50 for every time you are caught after hours, or may be more after the first three times, you will leave when a publican or a hotelier or a club owner says: “time up.”

As far as I can see there is no such thing as closing hours in the minds of the punter. He will drink, drink and drink as long as he is left there. In fact most of them do not know when to stop or when to go home. There is an enormous obligation at all times on the man behind the bar. He has an onerous job. I think you have to have a vocation to be a publican because you have to put up with so much and you have to listen to so much. Customers complain about the price to get in on the door; they complain about the quality of the food; they will complain about the cloakroom being too expensive or having to wait for their coats but they will never complain about the price of drink in an extension. That is a fact, and [2036] I know that from a personal experience. They will never complain. It is: “Where is it and what time are you finishing at”. That is the situation we have ourselves in here today.

If the restaurant licences are coming into force and a restaurant is going to be given a licence up to 12.30 a.m. with an unending opening time, which I am totally opposed to, where are the hotels around the country going to be? I forecast now that 40 per cent of our hotels will be on the market in two years, or what is left of the hotel industry outside of the cities. There is no way they can survive. The tourist trade at present is a ten to 11-week business. I am talking about the high spots in the country; I do not care where you pick, I am not going to mention any particular place. I know them inside out and upside down as I am dealing with these people on a daily basis. I know their problems because being in politics I hear more of the domestic problems as well as their plans for the future and all of what goes in the trade. If the Minister is going to open up licensed shebeens I do not know what is in this legislation for the hoteliers. I think it is a doomsday for the hoteliers and I hope that the Minister, his officials and the draftsmen have a look at this aspect before it comes to Committee Stage.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I would like to address, in particular the area that deals with under-age drinking and the implications of alcohol and alcoholism in particular for young people. It was an impossible bit of legislation to get right; I think it would be impossible to please all the sides and all the parties who have an interest in it. We are dealing with people whose lives are dependent on it, people whose employment is dependent on it etc.

I would like to stress the fact that alcohol is a drug. I was very pleased with the Minister's opening remarks on Second Stage, in introducing the Bill. When he said that the Bill contains provisions to counter drink abuse, particularly for under-age drinkers. That is what it is all about. I have a fair amount of experience [2037] working in the whole area of the control of drug abuse and drug misuse and I am quite firmly of the view that you can talk about opening hours, closing hours, you can bring in prohibition, you can bring in age cards but the problem of the abuse of any substance will never be solved by trying to control the supply of it. It just does not work.

I have seen it happen at all stages but I will give one simple example of something that happened in the past few years in a primary school in the city area, no more than a mile and a half from where we stand. The teachers in a primary school were worried about the fact that some of the older pupils in the school were arriving in with hangovers in the morning. These are pupils in the fifth and sixth class in primary school. It took a while to get to the bottom of it and they finally identified the ring of pupils in the school who were abusing alcohol. They made a major effort to find out the source of supply: it was a local disreputable off-licence.

I want to make a point immediately, of course, that as in all walks of life there are people who do their job properly and correctly and there are also the opposite. This off-licence was run most disreputably without any controls whatsoever and the young kids were freely able to purchase alcohol in it. The teachers approached the owner of the off-licence, the proprietor, and asked him to stop selling to the youngsters but he refused.

When it came to renewal of his licence in the court those teachers went to the court and objected to renewal of his licence. I will not go through the details of the court case except to say that the first response from the judge to the teachers' objections was “that this poor man is only trying to run a business”. Those are the key words in everybody's mind. His licence was renewed. It was only through the intervention of the local gardaí who then became aware of the problem and watched the place that they managed to stop him selling drink to those young people. They stopped him selling, and it would appear the supply [2038] was stopped. Six months later when following up what had happened and they still seemed to be getting drink, and this is still going on to this moment, the older kids, the 18 and 19 year olds are going into the off-licences, they are buying the drink, cider and vodka in particular and they are selling it at a profit to the younger kids, who are sometimes criminalising themselves to get the money to buy it. That is a true sequence of events of the kind of thing that happens.

I use this example to outline to people that we will not control the abuse of alcohol through trying to control the supply. It does not work. It does not work with any drug in the world. It has failed to work. For example, the European Parliament brought out a report on this whole area in the last number of years and one of the more draft recommendations — for them it was a major recommendation — was that we would go and send people out to Bolivia and Colombia and the South American countries to get them to stop growing the coca leaf and to replace it with vegetables, which we would then buy from them to create a vegetable mountain. There is about as much chance of that as a snowball existing in a hot place. It does not work.

I want to give another example of the dangers that arise from the abuse of alcohol which is a drug, it is a sedative drug, an addictive drug and it must be seen as that. I abuse it quite regularly myself. I am not speaking in “any holier than thou” tone: many of us use and abuse that substance.

A number of years ago, and it is still there to a certain extent though it has changed, it has marginalised itself, there was a rash of glue sniffing and the abuse of glue and other solvents for sniffing purposes. It got major media hype at the time and there was a major clampdown against it. In fact that clampdown was in many ways quite effective. Substances and solvents are still being abused on a fairly wide scale but not anything like the public way it was done before. It is now being reduced to the marginal society; young travellers are particularly prone to the abuse of solvents and to sniffing.

[2039] What has happened to those kids who were sniffing glue, who were sitting around O'Connell Bridge two or three years ago with their heads stuck in bags sniffing solvents? What happened was they learned very quickly what is a socially acceptable drug and what is not a socially acceptable drug. Glue is not a socially acceptable drug, but alcohol and tobacco are socially acceptable drugs. They graduated very quickly. The glue sniffers of two or three years ago have not stopped abusing, but they have now turned their attention to cider and alcohol, which is far more socially acceptable. I want to present that because the socially acceptable face of alcohol is what gives rise to many of the problems. It is incorrect to describe it as a gateway drug because it is a substance of abuse, it is a substance that is abused.

On the one hand we present situations where drinking — alcohol use and abuse — is part of the social scene. Young people see it on television. Much of the social life in Ireland, England or Australia is centred around the use of alcohol. I am not saying that that is wrong and I would not propose that we should present a situation that does not exist, but we have failed to counteract the influence of that. We are saying to young people that it is all right for us to go out for a drink three or four nights a week but you should not do it. Youngsters are not daft and they know that adults are not daft. We cannot have it both ways. The problem of abuse will not be solved by either criminalising young people who abuse it or by trying to stop the supply of alcohol.

The logical continuation of what I have said is that I would be opposed to the concept of any legislation which stops under-aged drinking. That is not what I am about to say, because in the real world that would not work either. But I am certain that it does not control the abuse of any substance, that you cannot, by criminalising an activity, stop it taking place. Neither can you stop any activity taking place by presenting the risks involved. Risk is attractive to humans, adults or youth. People would not climbs [2040] Mount Everest or jump off cliffs on hanggliders if no risks were involved — there is an adrenalin drive there——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Or being here?

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  There is an adrenalin drive here as well. I stated for the record, a Chathaoirligh, while you were not here that at least I had the satisfaction of knowing that it took the whole Fianna Fáil Party until 3 a.m. to shut me up. I think that is a substantial movement in some direction.

Minister of State at the Department of Energy (Mr. Smith): Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  It also shows the degree of our tolerance.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  It is a measure of the time it takes to get people out of hotels, hotel beds and homes back into the House for a vote at 2 a.m.

Presenting the gateway drugs as socially unacceptable does not work. They are socially acceptable. Youngsters know this and it is not a danger to them. Children smoke tobacco and then move on to cannabis. It is a non-move for them. Many of them are not even conscious of it, it is just another cigarette with a different name. Similarly, they move from tablets to the abuse of amphetamines. That situation is similar to that of alcohol. You will not solve under-age drinking, you will not solve alcohol abuse, by trying to control the supply or trying to criminalise the abusers. A very strong case could be made for allowing youngsters to take a social drink — at a family event, such as when out for a meal. This happens in many other countries. I was brought up that way myself, for good or evil.

I recognise that the Minister is responding to the pressures and forces of representation from all sides of society. Age cards are not going to solve the problem. Criminalising the use of alcohol by people under a certain age will not solve the problem. The only way to solve the problem is in the way it has been attempted to be addressed by theologians down the years: you educate people to the proper social use of alcohol. That would be far more effective.

[2041] I refer to the report of the National Health Council to the Minister for Health earlier this year. On the section dealing with under-age drinking they say that it is a serious problem with school children between the ages of 15 and 17. I have already outlined that children much younger than that, aged ten, 11, 12 or 13, are also drinking. It becomes a centre of things. In a survey of pupils preparing for their intermediate certificate it was found that two-thirds of them drank. That is an astonishing figure. I would not believe any person leaving post-primary education who said to me that they were never offered a drug or a drink in their whole school system. They will always be presented with these occasions, whether it is at the end of an examination, after winning some competition or some other reason. We can now accept that they will be faced with a choice.

If you have a group of 12 young people and 11 of them are drinking — they are all under-age and they are in a situation where drink is available in licensed premises — this legislation says that that young person under 18 years, even if the rest of them are 18, would be breaking the law if he were to buy the drink. Would you consider that that would be enough of a deterrent to stop that young person purchasing a drink when all his or her peers are drinking and urging them to do likewise? What kind of power of resistance does a youngster need to deal with that kind of pressure? That is where we need to be educating people, that is where we need to be investing our energies.

There is no point in saying to him or to her that it is an offence, it is breaking the law, and do not do it. People do not see that offence — even though it is a crime — as something that is a great worry. The Irish psyche is like that. In some countries it might work, but not in Ireland. The fact that it is a breach of law or procedure is not something that turns people off. We must educate them to the point of being able to accept a decision at a time when they are being offered the [2042] opportunity to use or abuse alcohol.

The report of the National Health Council to the Minister says that we are now getting, into the Irish Exchequer, £400 million in duties, excise and taxes from the sale of drink. We are not putting back one-fifth or one-tenth of that into combating alcohol abuse. We need to look at that. It is perfectly understandable that the Government need a certain amount of money and are dependent on the actual consumption of alcohol in order to have that income coming into them. If I say that they should put it back into programmes in order to educate people not to abuse alcohol, they are not going to do it because the pressure on them is not strong enough. At the same time, there is no comparison between the meagre amount of money which is made available each year for health education programmes in this area, and the amount of money that is spent on advertising alcohol. Earlier on today Senator Mooney gave figures as to the loss to the State each year from alcohol-related illnesses. That would include work days lost through alcohol abuse, through hangovers and so on, and put the figure at £300 million. I have no reason to doubt that figure, but it is astonishing. If we look at the actual economics of drink we see that, on the one hand, the Government are dependent on it for money and, on the other hand, the advertisers are pushing a product with a huge amount of money at their disposal. Then we have people trying to run a health education programme to counter drug abuse. It just does not work. It does not balance and we are nowhere near it.

In the recent report on the abuse of substances from the European Parliament which I referred to earlier, what I consider one of their better proposals was that every school in the European Community should have one teacher competent to deal with and to counsel in this whole area. That could be done quite cheaply. It would mean setting up some sort of in-service, courses of education for teachers. This would not be of any major cost to the State and once you had it in situ it would be there. We do not do [2043] that. Teachers are not trained to deal with this particular problem. They should be. We have identified a problem and we are doing nothing about it. There should be a counselling service for pupils in every school. I am not talking about a teacher employed to do that job only. I am talking about a teacher who had this as a facility, who attended courses to qualify for dealing with the problem.

The National Health Council said that educating the young about alcohol and the effects of alcoholism must be to the forefront of any educational programme. This ties into under-age drinking. This is where we need to attack the problem. We will not attack it or cure it the way we are going about it at the moment. We do not have any control over advertising. Many countries in Europe at the moment have outlawed drink advertising. We have not. There are two codes of standards in Ireland which apply to advertising for alcohol, one is the code of advertising standards in Ireland, as such, and the other is RTE's standards. In written form they cover a lot. RTE insist, for instance, that the advertisements must not be specially addressed to young people. In fact, one of their requirements is that people under 25 years of age are not allowed to participate in drink advertising. These are more positive things. I believe drink should not be advertised on television. I do not just mean on RTE, I mean on whatever kind of television we have over the coming years. Drink is a sex activity — and I mean that in the modern misuse of the word — it is a macho activity; it is an activity to which people relate easily in social circumstances. That is what we are trying to attack. I welcome much of what is in this Bill. I do not believe that the attempts to curb under-age drinking will be successful. That is not to say that I am opposed to what is in the Bill. I am not. In present circumstances the provisions are necessary. I do not think the age cards will work. As I said in this House a few months ago, rod licensing will not work and age cards will not work. No matter which way we go about it, people will [2044] find ways around it, ways to abuse it. However, it is an attempt to do something and I welcome it. It smacks of a lot of things people do not like. There is a decent attempt here to try to address the problem of under-age drinking. I do not think it will be successful. There is a problem of under-age drinking which is identified by the Minister. The solution to it will not be found in this Bill though many of its aspects are welcome. It should be taken a little bit further in another area.

I would like to refer to the general effects of the changing of the licensing hours. I welcome very much the decision to extend the licensing hours on Sunday night. I come from the town of Dingle and there is nothing as bad on a wet Sunday summer night as to see people being turfed out to crawl into their tents, or into their caravans, or whereever they are going so early in the evening. It is one area that has to be looked at.

People are very much opposed to the extension of drinking hours for many reasons including the problems of vintners and people running pubs and working in pubs with these extended hours. Is there a way of extending the legislation particularly in holiday areas? Is it too difficult to decide what a holiday area is? I would prefer to say it is a known resort, a known holiday area and allow a bit more latitude into the application of the law in that area. I mean that the law should be changed and amended to cover that particular point.

The Bill will be welcomed even though there have been objections to it. People will see it as an attempt to address a problem. People have been shouting for years about the effect the opening hours have on the tourist trade. People have been talking about under-age drinking. Things have been addressed here that people have been shouting about for years. I accept the points that have been made by other speakers. I accept that it will cause problems for many people. It is like the man and his son going to the fair with the ass. Do they carry it? Do the two of them get on top of it? Does the old man get on top of it and be told [2045] that he is unfair to the youngster or does the youngster get on the ass and be told he is unfair to the old fellow? No matter which way you go at it, it is not possible to get it right. I welcome the Bill as an attempt to get it right and I hope it has some success.

Mr. Cullimore: Information on Séamus Cullimore  Zoom on Séamus Cullimore  I would like to compliment the Minister on bringing this Bill before the House. The main provisions of the Bill are the granting of special restaurant licences, a change in the opening hours of licensed premises and measures to curb under-age drinking. I welcome section 7 which introduces a special restaurant licence to enable restaurants to get intoxicating liquor licences while serving a substantial meal. From a tourist point of view I welcome this. However, as a person who has grown up in a pub I am very concerned about the role the publican has played over the years. Many publicans have served this country well as social workers and in giving advice to various customers. I hope this Bill will not undermine the value of the publican's licence.

It is essential that there is very strict supervision on the issuing of these new licences. I welcome the involvement of the Circuit Court, Bord Fáilte and the Minister for Tourism and Transport in granting these new licences. In particular I welcome section 37 which empowers the gardaí to seize bottles or containers of intoxicating liquor where under-age drinking offences are suspected. This provision will allow the gardaí to deal more effectively in banning under-age cider parties. As public representatives we have received numerous requests from the public to give the gardaí power to deal with this problem. I am very glad the Minister is trying to do this in the new Bill.

I welcome the Minister's decision to extend drinking up time from ten minutes to 30 minutes. The present drinking up time of ten minutes is not sufficient to allow drinks to be consumed in an unhurried atmosphere. The extension of Sunday night closing from 10 o'clock to 11 o'clock is a very welcome development. [2046] This proposal has been very well received by the public in general. I wish the Bill a speedy passage.

Mrs. Fennell: Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  I will speak very briefly on this Bill. I welcome it. I feel that we have had a very worth-while debate in this House and in the other House. Many of the aspects dealing with new legislation in this area have been teased out in the Private Members Bill introduced by Deputy Seán Barrett and which was in the Dáil before the Government Bill.

This Bill deals with two major areas, the granting of licences to restaurants and the controlling of under-age drinking which was the single subject of Deputy Barrett's Bill. It deals with some other allied issues as well, including extending pub hours. The matter of licensing restaurants has been debated now for many years and the individual lobbys from both points of view, both publicans and restaurants, have attempted to guard their own interests. The publicans were afraid that licensed restaurants could impinge on their businesses and restaurants were stressing their need for full licences particularly in relation to the tourist trade. They say that visitors find it very strange that there are such diverse regulations in effect here. Perhaps the extended licensing of restaurants is needed for our Irish tourists rather than the European continental tourist because they do not tend to stay out late or have the same kind of night recreation Irish tourists have.

It is a good and civilised idea to extend full drinking licences to restaurants. I very much doubt, contrary to what Senator Cassidy said, that this will make much difference. Given the restrictions on the measure, that it has to be sanctioned and agreed, and that £3,000 has to be paid for the licence, I very much doubt that it will spread drinking as a widely as they fear. People will have a drink before a meal which is what most people want, wine with the meal and perhaps sit after their dinner and have a brandy or liqueur legitimately. I know of many instances where this has been happening already. It will enhance the [2047] service being offered by restaurants and, in my opinion, a very good time to enjoy alcohol is when you are eating.

The Bill extends the drinking hours for public houses, I have very mixed feelings about this. I wonder do we not have adequate time and sufficient places for drinking. I believe it will contribute to the social problems we already have. As has already been stated in the debate there are 7,200 admissions to mental hospitals annually which are related to alcohol. Apart from that, we have the problem of marital disharmony, violence and, of course, drunken driving. I wonder how much the extended hours all over the country will top these up.

When I was involved many years ago with the problem of family violence and battered wives, I questioned how the husbands who were involved in violence could so often get so much alcohol when it was obviously known that they abused alcohol and that they were violent when drunk. I have to say that many of the commentators and many of the people in the caring professions said they had never seen a case of family violence or wife beating that had not involved alcohol. I question sometimes how many publicans knowingly serve drink to people, men in particular, who are already well under the weather. I am not sure there was a great demand for this extension from the publicans who have mixed views about it in view of the staffing implications or, indeed, from customers.

I sincerely wish that we did not need legislation to control or regulate drinking. It would be an ideal society if we were all mature and responsible enough to treat alcohol with respect. Perhaps the day will come when we can get rid of legislation and restrictions but it may be a long way off. Certainly anybody who believes that we have repressive and prohibitive laws here would want to see what this law is like in Salt Lake City, Utah. Senator O'Toole might be interested to know that it is possible to close off alcohol entirely from a community, in this instance, the whole state. I spent about four days in the city and I saw how effective [2048] that measure was. They built into the laws of the state the customs of the Mormon religion and you could not get alcohol anywhere. They did not serve it in the hotels, restaurants or in their homes. They made absolutely no provision for the tourist industry and you saw tourists going around with a glazed look in their eyes trying madly to get a drink. In fact, it was very interesting. The group I was with had been travelling to various states and we were very put out after the second day. We were like people with withdrawal symptoms. Eventually we tracked down some drink and bought it in an off-licence. The interesting thing was that we were seen as anti-social. They did not really like the fact that we came there and wanted to drink alcohol. It was disapproved of entirely.

I welcome the provisions to reduce under-age drinking. We have been talking about this for years. All of us have had various representations made to us but nothing was done until now, in part as many publicans argued that legislation could not be enforced because of the difficulty nowadays in ascertaining the age of young people. It is confusing because many 16 and 17 year olds, particularly girls, can look older and can make themselves look older. Perhaps on the other hand you find young men of, say, 21 or 22 years do not look their age, so the publicans found this difficult.

I sincerely hope that all the provisions in this legislation will be enforced and, in particular the one dealing with under-age drinking. Publicans should now be alerted to the fact that they will bear full responsibility for serving or facilitating under 18 year olds subsequent to the passing of this legislation. It would be ideal if the gardaí did not have to patrol this legislation with a heavy hand, if the combined efforts of parents, publicans and young people could ensure that it was effective, but enforced it must be. Careless and unscrupulous publicans must be charged. The kind of businessman who is running the off-licence Senator O'Toole referred to is a classic case and speedy action should be possible under this Bill [2049] to deal with somebody like him.

Recently one of the young people in my house, who is 21 years, came back from a night at the pub and he said to me very seriously that he was deeply worried at the number of young people in the pub drinking. Knowing that he had started drinking himself at around 16 or 17 I asked was he getting very repressive or prudish in his old age of 21 years and he took it very seriously and said no, he was not talking about his contemporaries; he was talking about 14, 15 and 16 year olds who were in the pub and he found this quite distressing. They were boys from the local school and he realised that this was wrong and unfair to them.

It is regrettable that young people of 15, 16 and 17 years take alcohol habitually. We have to counter this as best we can. I believe that having restrictive legislation will not solve the problem, as Senator O'Toole said, but it is the only thing we can do and we have to do it but, in tandem with that, we have to have a schools programme to address the problem of drinking by students. The amount of money spent on advertising, and the type of advertising and marketing aimed very assiduously at the young people is effective. There is a lot of money behind it and there are vested interests behind it. We have to go some way towards countering that if we are to be fair to young people. We have to find some way of countering the whole idea of making drink romantic, daring and grown up and telling young people that alcohol is something that can make them feel good for a certain length of time, that it can give them stature with their colleagues when, in fact, it is dangerous, it is addictive and it is a drug.

I wish to comment briefly on section 40 of the Bill, which makes provision for a system of age cards, I welcome this. I am glad the Minister is calling them age cards rather than ID cards, although some people may not make a distinction between the two. I asked some of the young people in my house what they felt about this and they all agreed that age cards would be welcome and acceptable. I believe the vast majority of people, not [2050] only those in the parent group, would like these introduced. It will, of course, be voluntary and there will be no compulsion involved. We will not be marching all the young people up to the Garda stations or wherever to get ID cards. However, it could become obligatory if enough publicans insisted on seeing a card where they have any element of doubt about the age of the person who is ordering a drink.

I take up the point made by Senator Manning about section 31 (4) which he said was very vague in the way this section was drafted. “A person in respect of whom the charge is brought produced to him a document that appeared to be an age card” is terribly vague. What do you mean by “appeared to be”? Is that not a very easy let off by a publican? That particular aspect should be cleared up or changed.

I regret that we are relaxing the provisions on children in pubs in section 34. I know the existing rule, which makes it illegal for under 15 year olds to be in bars, is abused and ignored. I am not convinced by the arguments in favour of this relaxation. I do not think they are entirely valid. I feel it is a regressive step because a child or a young person can now spend many hours on a regular basis in a drinking environment, which could adversely affect his attitude to drink at a later stage.

I welcome section 47 which makes provision for the sale of liquor in supermarkets. Self-service, as we know it, in most stores makes alcohol very accessible and very easy to young people and where we can, we should make it as difficult as possible for young people to get drink. It is ludicrous to expect a check-out person, who is busy and usually under pressure, to be selective about who is purchasing alcohol. This change is long overdue and on this I notice that businesses are being given time to adjust their sales arrangements to cater for this requirement. I hope that this is not open-ended and that a reasonable time limit is put on the expectation that these should be put in place.

With regard to the time limits it may [2051] not be necessary to wait until everything is in place before the Bill can be put into operation. There is no commencement provision in the Bill and it seems it would be a simple matter to provide for different commencement dates for different parts of the Bill as was done, for example, in the case of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. I ask the Minister to indicate his thinking on this important matter.

I would like to comment the Minister for his approach to the Bill and to amendments. It is now a better measure than when published, having been well argued and changed in the other House. It is welcome, but it must be enforced if we are to see any change. I hope the Bill is not an end, that the legislation will be reviewed and monitored from time to time to gauge its effectiveness and, if it appears that there are loopholes or that it falls short in the areas in which it is required, that the Minister and the Department will come back to it again and bring in necessary amendments.

Mr. Doyle: Information on Joseph Doyle  Zoom on Joseph Doyle  I will be very brief because a lot of repetition has set in on Second Stage of the Bill. I welcome the legislation before the House. Earlier this morning a number of speakers spoke of past history in Ireland in relation to our drinking habits and the problems it has caused in the last century and the earlier part of this century to our social life.

The reason the legislation was introduced was to protect ourselves from the problems that drink can cause. It is good for society that there has been a change in our licensing laws over the last number of years and that there is a liberalisation in our laws. This is another step in that direction. I welcome the fact that restaurants can now sell alcohol with meals. This is a most civilised way to treat the issue.

I am glad that the Bill is so specific in setting down regulations, that restaurants that can sell drink with meals cannot have bars in the areas where meals are being served. In fairness to the licensing trade and to public houses, this must be insisted upon. It is only fair that if we allow restaurants [2052] of a certain class to sell alcohol, then they should be able to sell it only at table.

I am glad that the law has been changed in relation to under-age drinking, that more responsibility is put on to the publican in serving people who are under the age of 18 and that the law has been changed to make it more definite that it is his responsibility. The law also has been changed in relation to drinking up time. The ten minutes is extended to half an hour. Here I would like to see the opposite change. I would like to see the responsibility in the area not being on the publican but actually being charged on to the consumer, the person who is in the public house. You can take it that if we have 30 minutes drinking up time, a person can before 11.30 p.m. buy a certain amount of drink and have it on the table. The man wants to drink that and not leave when the 30 minutes drinking up time comes. If the Garda come in, the responsibility should be on that person. He should be the one who is at fault, not the publican. It is only fair again to the licensing trade that if they have to share the responsibility of knowing a person is under the age of 18, then in the other area where people are on the premises after closing time, after the 30 minutes drinking-up time, they are breaking the law, not the publican — of course, if the publican has not served drink in the intervening period.

I am glad of one aspect in this Bill — I disassociate myself from what my colleague, Senator Fennell said — in relation to children of 15 years of age being allowed now on to licensed premises. Indeed, I found a very embarrassing situation some time ago in my own constituency after attending an event on a very cold afternoon. I brought my wife and family into a local public house and the publican very politely told me that he could not serve me because children of that age were not allowed on the premises. This Bill provides for that kind of situation where a family comes in to a public house for a drink, especially on Sundays. Children who see their parents drinking responsibly will, when they [2053] come of age also drink responsibly. On the continent parents drink wine and encourage even their children to drink wine and it does not have a serious effect on children. It is something we shied away from in Ireland and it is something we should encourage. Children should see their parents drinking responsibly.

I was a bit worried, as I chaired the session when Senator Cassidy was speaking, in relation to the problems he outlined. It would appear that he accepts that the licensing laws are well enforced in the Dublin area, but outside the Dublin area he gave the impression to the House that there was a serious dereliction of duty by the Garda in not enforcing the law. That comes as a surprise to me. I hope that will be put right.

In relation to the extensions, I have always been concerned about this. Extensions are granted too easily. I accept now that extensions on Fridays and Saturdays are acceptable but I am a little concerned about the extension for Sundays. Senator Cassidy again brought up the point that publicans would have to close the bar at 11.30 p.m. and open again at 12 midnight to avail of the extension to 1 o'clock. I think that when people have to be at work at 8 o'clock on Monday, 11 o'clock on Sunday night is a suitable time to stop drinking. I feel there should be no extensions granted on Sundays so that people can be fit for work on Monday mornings. I accept that there should be extensions on Fridays and Saturdays for social reasons, especially as Saturday is not a working day now. It is the best time for people to enjoy themselves.

I also notice that meals will have to be served to the value of £5. We know that people in order to get an extension have this kind of miserable chicken and chips meal of a very limited quantity just to be within the law. I hope the cost of the same kind of food that is served at extensions just to be within the law is not going to be increased now from £2 to £5. I hope people are going to get better value in the extension.

On the whole I welcome the legislation and I will be very interested to hear the [2054] Committee Stage debate on the Bill.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I would like to make a few brief and specific comments on the legislation to which I also extend a welcome although there will be some small modifications in my attitude. I think everybody in the country will welcome legislation that contains provisions, as the Minister stated in his Second Stage speech, to counter drink abuse, especially under-age drinking. There is no doubt that there will be unqualified approval throughout the country for this, including from certain sections at least of the drinks industry itself.

I listened to as much of the debate this afternoon as I could on the monitor and I do not want to repeat a lot of matter that has already been placed on the record. In case this has not been placed on the record I would like to refer briefly to material I received this morning from the Cider Industry Council which states that 94 per cent of parents expressed their support for the proposed increase in the minimum age limit for purchasing alcohol from off-licence premises from 15 to 18 years; that 91 per cent of parents were in favour of a change in the law which would require young people to carry and show an identity card when purchasing alcohol and that 85 per cent of parents believed that the number of under-age people attempting to buy alcoholic drink from off-licence premises or supermarkets has increased over the past three years.

I very much welcome the fact that the Minister in this legislation has sought to address the specific and important points with regard to under-age drinking. I say this bearing in mind particularly section 36 of the legislation which restricts the presence of under-age persons in off-licences. Under this section persons under 18 will be allowed on such premises only if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

I remember during the past year listening to an account on the radio of a woman whose young son was discovered in a state of coma by some companions. He was brought home and was discovered to be suffering from alcoholic poisoning. He [2055] was got into hospital and, thank God, recovered. Eventually of course, it emerged that what had happened was that he had gone into an off-licence attached to a public house and had bought half a bottle of vodka which he had managed to consume almost on his own. That child could actually have died. When he emerged from hospital the mother drove him down and sent him in again to see if he would get the bottle of vodka and he did get the bottle of vodka. The mother went in and perfectly and rightly tore strips off the man who sold it and he said: “Well, children are always coming in and saying they are buying it for their parents”.

I believe this is very dangerous and I am very glad that section 36 at least appears theoretically to close off this loophole which I think is a threat to the health of our young people, particularly teenage and indeed even pre-teenage drinkers.

I also welcome section 37 which gives the Garda power to seize containers of alcohol which are in the possession of under-age persons in any place other than in an occupied private residence where the Garda suspect an under-age drinking offence has been committed. I take it that this is specifically intended to address the problem of the so-called cider parties which in various areas of the city, including certain sections of the north inner city, have become quite notorious and constitute a threat to the general public.

I am glad to say that there has not been too much of this in my own area of the city but if I move slightly to the north of the inner city, I have had occasion on a couple of evenings walking past the canal to witness these things in progress. There are some very pleasant walks for a summer evening along the canal from Phibsboro' up towards the Phoenix Park and I have actually had to turn back on one or two occasions because I felt myself prsonally in danger from the behaviour of young people engaging in cider parties.

I would like to ask, however, that this provision should be extended because there are certain kinds of behaviour that [2056] are quite intolerable, regardless of age. It is not just young people who engage in this kind of anti-social activity. There are many derelect sites in the inner city of Dublin and these are frequently colonised by people whom the greatest degree of charitable latitude could not possibly describe as under-age and their behaviour is frequently anti-social, threatening, dangerous, unpleasant, sometimes obscene and unhygienic. I would hope that the Garda would also intervene regardless of age to prevent this nuisance.

I say this not just from personal pique but also because this city of Dublin, especially in the Millennium year, is a principal centre of tourism. What kind of impression do we give to our visitors from abroad if they are treated to the continual sight of people begging in the streets in a half-drunken condition, then behaving abusively, carring bottles of cider, or indeed the very appropriately named Marie Celeste sherry, which seems to be a particular tipple of these people? I hope this provision will be extended by the Minister.

Having mentioned tourism, I would like to say I also welcome the extension of the licensing laws to allow restaurants to serve a full range of drinks. This is appropriate. There is no doubt about that. We represent an anomaly in terms of most other European countries and indeed the United States of America, most states of which allow the consumption of spirits in restaurants. People come here with the expectation that they can have a drink, an aperitif before a meal and then a brandy, a whisky or a liqueur at the end of the meal. I have now terminated my inglorious career as a restaurant critic but I have during that period had a number of occasions on which I was offered, almost surreptitiously and with a delicious aura of criminality about it, a glass of brandy or whisky at the end of the the meal with the kind of whispered injunction to be a little bit careful because the proprietor did not have a full licence.

That seems to me to be the kind of nonsense that invites a flouting of the [2057] law. I am sure the Minister will agree with me that if you have a law you want a practical law, a law that will be respected and not one that constitutes an incitement to members of a particular profession to break the law or to flout it in any way.

I would also like to welcome the fact that section 12 of the Bill will enable the Minister for Tourism and Transport to make regulations prescribing standards which must be met in restaurants qualifying for the new licence. There is an obligation on the restaurant trade to meet certain minimal requirements in terms of the kind, quality and amount of food that is provided to constitute a meal, not the kind of nonsense that I remember from the bona fide days when we floated out to hosteleries in the Dublin mountains and had about three limp chips and a fishfinger and we were then allowed to drink for an extra three-quarters of an hour or something. This, again, is clearly a nonsense. It was a joke in the sixties and it certainly does not constitute any additional incentive as far as the tourist trade is concerned.

I am being remarkably positive and I want to welcome another provision of the Bill, that is, the proposal that drinking up time should be increased from ten minutes to 30 minutes. I say this because I think, in addition to the very practical elements that have been refered to during the debate, there is also the psychological elements that have been referred to during ing time comes along in a pub, people who have not been drinking at anything other than a leisurely pace will suddenly become feverish and order two or three drinks which they have to down in a considerable hurry. Ther is all this banging of trays and, “Time now gentlemen, please”. This is a very civilised move and it will lead to a much better quality of atmosphere in drinking establishments throughout the country, I have many friends in the business of licensed premises, publicans and sinners, and I think that the Irish pub is a unique institution and, despite the problems we may have with alcoholism, it is something that deserves a certain degree of respect. There is [2058] nothing more sociable than an Irish pub if it is well run.

I would like to turn now to a couple of matters that concern me. Before I do that may I put in, in parenthesis, that I also welcome the abolition of the holy hour which is one of the most idiotic things and really did cause the country to be brought into a certain amount of laughable contempt — a Christian country and the thing that we regard as the most sacred and so on is the holy hour. The association between religion and drink sounded to me always a little bit fatuous, I must admit.

I would like to turn back now to the question of the relationship between publicans and their customers because it does seem to me — and I would like the Minister to consider this possibility — that we could follow the example of certain American states which have decided, because of the very large number of accidents, of violent altercations, of anti-social behaviour on the part of people who have spent the best part of a day doing the rounds of public houses, that the publicans who serve them with drink when they are already clearly drunk should be made legally responsible. I urge this very strongly because, living in the inner city and walking around this city at various hours of the day and night in pursuance of my legitimate business, I have quite frequently noticed people going into a public house in a pretty sorry condition of drink, staying in there for, say, half an hour, or three quarters of an hour, or an hour, being given more drink with no concern on the part of the publican for anything other than profit and then sometimes being carried out in the arms of a barman and dumped down a side lane.

I have also seen people being admitted both during regular licensing hours and after licensing hours and helped out into the street and helped into motor cars. I believe that the publican who knowingly allows somebody to become more intoxicated and then facilitates him in getting into a car should be subject to criminal prosecution. I hope that the Minister will be able to give some assurance about [2059] that. I note that he is scrutinising the Bill. Perhaps it is there and I have not noticed it. If it is, then that will be simply another item for me to welcome.

I would like to refer also to Part III of the Bill where the question of special exemption orders arises. The Minister in his speech said that the District Court is enabled to grant these exemptions in respect of special occasions in licensed hotels and licensed restaurants. He notes that there has been a considerable increase in the number of special exemptions in recent years and that there have been complaints that they are now a source of abuse. They most certainly are. I would like to say that I think the District Courts have behaved in a grotesquely irresponsible way on many occasions in the way in which they have dealt with these applications. I have stood in the District Court and watched these applications going through at an unbelievable rate of knots with a rubber stamp. There is no investigation whatever as to the suitability of the premises, the suitability of the proprietor or the past record of the licence holder.

I, for example, have made continuous complaints, as have a number of residents who live close to me in the inner city, about specific hotels which have had an ungodly number of extensions. We have complained to the police. The police have prosecuted them on numerous occasions and yet the same people are able to go into the District Court, and the licence or extension goes by on the nod. The record is not examined at all. So outrageous abuses are compounded by the judicial system and I would like publicly to call for a halt to this practice. The way in which the District Court behave with regard to the granting of licences is nothing short of a public scandal and an outrage. Not far from me, I may say, there is a hotel which has consistently got this kind of extension and——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair would be concerned that the Senator might mention a hotel. While a general reference is OK let us hope that we do not become specific.

[2060]Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Thank you, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. You are quite correct. I am greatly tempted to mention not one but several hotels but I think they will probably recognise themselves. I will not give any real clue, but I am really talking about some specific examples which I could privately make available to the Minister. I will not identify any hotels but I can mention one incident which took place in the past two years in which, as a result of one of these late night extensions, a fracas ensued in which the reception area of an hotel was almost totally obliterated and destroyed and one unfortunate individual had his nose bitten off. This hotel will continue, as far as I can make out, to get licences granted. I would like to know what a special examption is. What is so special about exemptions if you get them twice a week? There is nothing special about anything that happens twice a week. The whole phraseology is a complete and utter nonsense.

I would like to continue this line of examination by saying that these licences impact upon the local community in a very serious and detrimental way. This is particularly true of people who are living up to the urgings of all our civic representatives and moving back into the inner city. It is no great pleasure to have to put up with the kind of carry on that you get consistently after these late night extensions. A further point that I would like to make and make very strongly on this matter is the attitude of the gardaí. I have dealt with the gardaí both at metropolitan level and at local level and I find them usually very satisfactory. They are also heart-broken by the fact that they can prosecute premises repeatedly and they will still find the same buckos getting the same licences year after year and the responsible members of the licensed vintners' trade — and they are by far the majority — are brought into contempt by the irresponsible behaviour of a few and the impotence of the gardaí to do anything about it.

I would like also to say that I have approached the gardaí with this subject in mind because I am very concerned about the consequences of late night drinking with regard to road traffic casualties. [2061] I have pointed out to them that people are emitted in great numbers from these drinking establishments, for they are nothing else, in an advanced state of intoxication and they then get into their cars. I appealed on one occasion to a senior police officer to mount radar checks and breathalyser spot checks in these areas. I suggested that he should put one here and there and I actually suggested locations. The answer I got was that they could not do that because it would amount to entrapment. I know that the whole question of entrapment is a very difficult ethical issue but I may say that, having witnessed the kind of behaviour that I witness every weekend in the city of Dublin, I am surprised not at the great incidence of fatalities on the roads, but that it is not a great deal worse.

I hope the Minister will make some provision to assist the gardaí because I believe they would be willing to avail of it and I really think that the breathalyser should be implemented as fully as possible. I sincerely hope by the way in saying that that I will not be one of its first victims. In the interests of people who are regularly maimed and sometimes killed, women who are widowed and children who are left orphaned as a result of this simple irresponsibility, it is incumbent on us to do something really serious about this matter.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Hopefully under the road traffic code. You are straying onto the roads there a bit.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I think there is a relationship——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is worth mentioning in passing but should not be developed too much.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  In that case I will turn speedily under your benign guidance to something else but you do remind me of the dangers of anybody who stands up and says brevity is the soul of wit because [2062] you then know you are in for an hour and a half, and I said I was only going to address a few specific points. I hope the Minister will agree that I have been specific but the points have tended to proliferate as I investigated the marks I had placed on his legislation. I hope he will also take cognisance of the fact that most of what I have had to say is positive and I am really trying to encourage him to go that little bit further.

I would like to continue this note of encouragement by saying that I am glad that section 44 allows objection to be made to the renewal of club certificates by persons living outside the parish, because I think the parish boundaries and definitions are sometimes very arbitrary and people who are living outside the immediate parish boundaries may very often be the people principally affected by the nuisance caused by these establishments if they are badly run. The Minister says there have been many complaints that some clubs are openly flouting the law by advertising drinking facilities such as late night extensions to the public at large.

Section 45 seeks to remedy this situation by making it an offence to advertise functions in registered clubs save by means of a notice within the club or else by a circular issued to the club members. Again, “hear, hear” say I. If the Minister is able to enforce this, he will be, I will not say a better man, but as good a man as I suspect he is because this is pretty difficult to do. Again I am aware of places all over the city of Dublin, and I am greatly tempted to mention specific instances but I will refrain from doing so. I am sure however the Minister will remember a celebrated court case in which I was involved which led to the extinction of such a premises so I need not make any specific reference, he can deduce for himself what I am talking about, where this is common practice, to openly solicit members of the public to what was supposed to be a private club where they stayed drinking until 2 or 3 in the morning and then cheerfully drove up and down residential streets blowing their horns and doing U-turns in the [2063] middle of the road. This is behaviour which is totally unacceptable in a civilised country.

I would like to draw my remarks to a conclusion by referring to the question of opening hours and the extension of those. Here I have for the first time to depart from my established practice over the last 20 minutes or so of welcoming the provisions, because living where I do I cannot really be expected to welcome extensions of opening hours of this nature, again because of the impact this will undoubtedly have on the capacity of inner city residents to get any decent sleep at all. I would say that I am a practical person. It is perfectly clear that these provisions are going to go through. They are not welcomed by me. They are not welcomed by most of the barmen involved who feel they are going to be compelled to work what they regard as very anti-social hours. They are not going to be welcomed by the family houses who are going to be forced into competition with public houses that are run much more as a business.

I am very much afraid that these provisions are going to go through. However I believe that it is an absolute responsibility on the Department of Justice if they are going to push this measure through, to make sure that these provisions are adhered to. I could give the Minister the list of pubs which openly flout the licensing laws in the city of Dublin, not just in my own area. I have seen it time and time again. I have seen the shutters down on a Sunday; I have frequently seen the shutters flying up on pubs in the city of Dublin and an entire congregation, if I may dignify them with that epithet, of drunks flowing out on to the pavement. This is not tolerable, so that if the licensing hours are going to be increased to 12 o'clock at night or to 1 o'clock in the morning with drinking-up time of half an hour, these must be strictly adhered to and the behaviour of the people who emerge from the pubs must be controlled. I personally could not care less if people drank 24 hours around the clock. I believe in free choice. What I object to [2064] and I object to it most strenuously is the possible subsequent behaviour of people when they have engaged in this kind of activity, because it is anti-social, dangerous not only to their own health but to the health of other people, and it should be the particular subject of the attention of the Garda. I have been informed by some of my contacts within this industry that a case can be made not for the implementation of specific licensing hours but for some degree of flexibility and particularly this plea has come from family houses who would like the opportunity to open not between the hours of, say 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. but would like a 12-hour period and to be allowed to choose any 12-hour period in which to open but only that 12-hour period. This has been urged upon me by a particular lobby within the drinks industry and I expect that the Minister has considered this but he might like to know that there is a considerable body — and I am thinking in particular of the family houses who are in competition with more industrially-minded operations — who would welcome such a provision.

I thank the Minister for his attention and I end by again welcoming this legislation which I think is a clear advance, and I hope the Minister will find it possible to look into some of the areas where I have expressed what is a very genuine concern which if taken into account could improve the quality of life for people living in this city of Dublin of which we all seek to be so proud.

Mr. D. Kiely: Information on Daniel Kiely  Zoom on Daniel Kiely  I welcome the Bill because I think it is a necessary piece of legislation. There are parts of the Bill that I am not happy with but there are other parts which are badly needed. One part which is at the forefront is in relation to restaurants and the availability of liquor to people having a full meal. I believe it is important that the restaurants be of good standard. In future years we could find people building restaurants just for the opportunity of gaining a liquor licence in a prime location. The fee of £3,000 as specified in the section is [2065] not adequate. This fee should be in the region of at least £10,000. As one who has been in the trade for the past 25 years I know what it is like to purchase a pub and a restaurant and I know the amount of money that is invested in these premises. If you build a hotel at present you will get a licence with that hotel, but then, at the same time, you have to buy a licence to have a public bar in that premises and those licences cost in the region of £10,000. I think £10,000 would be the ideal figure. In the past people had to pay up to £10,000 to acquire those licences and people in the restaurant trade can now come and get licences for as little as £3,000. However, I would say the provision is needed and I am glad it is there.

I did not hear fully what Senator Norris said about abuses and so on and people falling out with hotel managements. I would like him to specify the hotel he was speaking about because I do not think that type of thing goes on at all particularly in this country. Definitely in my county the Garda do an excellent job — at times, too good — when they are dealing with the licensed trade.

Part III of the Bill deals with the permitted hours of licences. The closing hours adopted in 1960 and 1962 have stood the test of time but extending the 10 minutes to half an hour for drinking up time is badly needed. The hour on Sunday night is definitely something that was needed for a long time. Sunday seems to be a night now when people usually go out for a drink and it is actually bright — particularly at this time of the year — when it comes to closing time and people are going home. I am glad to see that change.

However, I am not at all happy about the matter of being on the premises after the half-hour drinking up time, say 12 o'clock. The Garda can come into your premises at 12.02 a.m. and you can be convicted for having someone on the premises and, at the same time, if you have a restaurant licence somebody could be on the premises after 12.30 a.m. up to one or two o'clock, and you could not be convicted. There is a big difference between being on the premises and being [2066] found drinking on the premises. I feel a bit of leeway should be made there for being “found on” the premises.

It is very difficult today to get people to go into public houses but it is even more difficult to get people to leave public houses. They claim they have paid for the drink, and when it comes to finishing up time and you tell them to finish up their drinks they actually abuse you and say that they paid good money for the drink and that they will finish up when they feel like finishing it. Then you have to tell them about the law and the gardaí coming in and so forth. They say they do not care about the gardaí and the law. This puts a lot of pressure on the publican or the manager of a premises.

I feel the fine which is mentioned in the Bill for the person “found on” the premises should be increased and the fine mentioned in the Bill for the publican should be decreased. All the onus should not be put on the publican because publicans nowadays have very long hours and they want to finish up their work and get home. If people are there finishing up their drinks and are slow about it it is very difficult to get them to leave the premises right on the button. I think some bit of leeway should be given there.

On the matter of fines, I feel that this fine is too much particularly in the rural parts of Ireland. It may be suitable for the city of Dublin, Cork or Galway and the bigger areas where you have large business turning over anything from £20,000 to £30,000 a week but in the country you have people depending on pubs for their livelihood and it is the norm that the people with the small public houses have a little bit of land and they need it to survive. You are speaking of a business with a turnover of £500, £600, £700 or £800 a week, where a husband and wife and the family are running the business. Yet, they may get a fine of £400, exactly the same fine as somebody in the city who is turning over something in the region of £30,000 a week.

The fines here in the city of Dublin are not enough at all. I feel that the fine should perhaps be as high as £1,000 for the pubs in the cities. I genuinely feel [2067] very strongly about the fact that the fines are too much for publicans in rural Ireland, too severe altogether. I hope when this Bill goes through district justices in rural parts of Ireland will take the income of the business into account. If there is a lot of abuse the owner or publican should suffer the full rigours of the law.

I would like to speak about the exemptions. From my experience, being in the trade for 24 or 25 years, I see that over the past six or seven years the trade has changed completely especially with Mass changed from Sunday morning to Saturday evening. The whole trend of going out at the weekends has changed from Sunday night to Saturday night. A person in the hotel trade or the restaurant trade or clubs cannot get an exemption on a Saturday night after 12 o'clock. You are talking about finishing time at 11 o'clock and half an hour drinking up time which goes to 11.30 p.m. and you are asking a person to pay £100 for an exemption order from 11.30 p.m. to 12 o'clock on a Saturday night. Saturday night seems now to be the normal night for going out and I feel that you should be allowed to apply for exemptions for Saturday nights from 12 o'clock until 12 o'clock in the morning, more especially in the seaside resorts.

That is another thing I am not too pleased about in the Bill. When I heard this Bill was going through I thought some allowance would have been made for the seaside resorts. It is very difficult for seaside places to make a living as they are trying to make money in two or three months and the seasons are getting shorter in seaside towns. Some kind of concession should be made for seaside towns and liquor should be available in those premises in these areas for at least an hour later than mentioned in the Bill.

Again, seaside resorts come to mind when I speak about the finishing up time. From my experience, there may be a good sing-song going in a seaside pub where people meet from all over Ireland on their holidays and so forth and it is very difficult when people are singing to [2068] tell them they must finish up and go home. It is very difficult to avoid being “found on” the premises at that particular time — that is the point I am trying to make — even where the publican would not be serving a drink and the shutters would be down and he would be genuinely closed. They can have a sing-song in a restaurant and would not be fined at all for being “found on” the premises.

Also, I think the exemption orders are very expensive at £100 per application. It is very difficult to deal with fees of that kind. I am emphasising specifically that the Minister should really have a look at this Saturday night law and see if there is some way around it and amend the Bill to allow exemptions on Saturday nights.

I am delighted with the part of the Bill where there are severe fines for under-age drinking. I think any person in the trade who would actually sell to under-age people should not be in the trade at all and objections should be made when their licences are up for renewal. I have experience in this country and other countries where I worked in the trade and at the age of 18 years you would not get a drink. In New York State at present you have to be 21 years of age to get a drink and over the past six months they have changed it from 18 to 21 years even to get on the premises. I think 18 is generous but to serve drink to under-age people is reprehensible. What I am extremely worried about is that you can have under-age people on the premises, provided they are with their parents or guardians, or whatever the case may be. With an exemption you cannot even be on the premises if you are under the age of 18. If the Minister were at a function down the country as a guest speaker and I wanted to bring my son or daughter to that function to hear him or somebody else speak at that function, I am not entitled to have my child on that premises just because there is an exemption for that night in respect of that premises. Even though the child might be 16 or 17 years and would not be drinking and would be with his or her parents, the child can be on the premises up to 11 o'clock [2069] or 11.30 but cannot be on the premises after 11.30 because you have an exemption in force. I think it is a dangerous type of ground. If that is to be enforced rigorously, I think it will have a detrimental effect on the licensing trade. It is something that should be looked at again so that perhaps the person under 18 could be allowed on these premises provided they were accompanied by somebody responsible.

Apart from social functions and so on where husbands and wives might be forced to take their teenage daughter or son with them, I am happy enough with the provision. I would like the Minister to take into account the few things I have said. I welcome the Bill which is long overdue and I am glad that liquor is to be available in restaurants. We are living in Boer War days by not having it available since it is available in every restaurant all over the world. When these people are applying for their licences, £3,000 is a small amount of money and I feel strongly that the minimum they should pay is what the man going into the real trade, the man going into the hotel business, who has to buy a licence has to pay. He gets one if he has over 12 rooms but he has to buy a licence and those licences cost in the region of £10,000. That is the price a person should pay for a licence when setting up a restaurant.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  First of all, I would like to welcome the legislation. The social habits of the country have changed greatly since legislation was passed in 1962. Tourism has also increased rapidly over the past ten years and it was essential that legislation should be introduced to align us with the social aspects of continental and US habits. We get many of our tourists from these areas.

Dealing with the Bill specifically, a lot of interest has been generated by the special restaurant licence. It is an excellent idea and it should be of great benefit to the country in general and also to the tourist industry. It will have to be vigilantly ensured that only the highest standard of restaurant will be accepted for this special licence. The family-run [2070] pubs in rural Ireland are quite well established to provide a service to the community by selling intoxicating liquor. For the people who apply for the special restaurant licence I feel Bord Fáilte should establish a very strong system or a very strong qualification certificate so that only people able to supply a proper service will be eligible.

I am glad to see in the Minister's speech that restaurants will not be allowed to sell drink in the same way as public houses. It is essential that these restaurants will not be able to provide a bar facility, but I am a little sceptical about this. Many restaurants perhaps will have a room or an ante-room off the actual restaurant where they will be able to provide drinking facilities and, just because they have not provided a bar at which somebody can sit and lean on, will not necessarily prevent the restaurant from being able to serve liquor without people actually having to be having a meal. I think this is going to be extremely hard to administer. If somebody comes in, or if the police come in and there is somebody sitting in the room off the restaurant drinking, he can always say that he has had a meal. I do not want to be negative in my approach but it will be very difficult to police and I can see problems arising here.

As an individual who was reared in a family-run pub I know that many vintners are a bit sceptical about the way the special restaurant licence will be implemented and specifically about the way the special restaurant licences will be policed. In the case of the publicans themselves, it is easy to know when somebody is drinking after hours. I do not want to dwell on the point, but it is essential that there is fairness in the legislation. I take the point made by the vintners that for the special restaurant licence no map of a licence area has to be given to the courts. This raises still another difficulty in policing the special restaurant licence. That gives restaurants an unfair advantage compared with the ordinary pub where the gardaí will have no trouble or difficulty in policing the premises.

Since I came into the Seanad I have [2071] spoken on quite a number of Bills and a pet topic of mine is that I think we are the best country in the world for having laws but I do not know if we are the best country in the world for enforcing them. There is a lot of legislation but in real terms it is extremely difficult to enforce much of it. I am still sceptical about the policing of the special restaurant.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  The Senator is not a fisherman.

Mr. G. Reynolds: Information on Gerry Reynolds  Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  I am a fisherman too — about 52 lakes in a ten mile area. Pubs that wish to provide the same service as restaurants should be given the same facility. In return for this, publicans who wish to compete should be prepared to do the following: (1) supply substantial meals during all their hours of trading; (2) have their basic menus agreed with Bord Fáilte; (3) have health inspectors in their kitchens; and (4) have their members trained by CERT before these additional hours are granted to them. That is a very fair proposal by the Vintners Federation of Ireland and it should be taken up by the Minister.

I really welcome this amendment to the legislation in regard to drinking up time. I think everybody has emphasised how useless ten minutes drinking up time is when everybody is trying to buy his last two drinks at 11.30 and have them finished by 11.40. That poses great problems both for the customer's constitution and for the poor publican trying to get people out of the bar. I am going back to my old hobby horse. This part of the law will have to be enforced rigorously because, in rural Ireland especially many bad habits have arisen in the sense that people are coming into the bars at 11.25 p.m. and trying to get their final couple of drinks by 11.40 and that drags on until 12.30 a.m. The law is being broken. The publicans themselves will have to take this on. It is the responsibility of the publicans as well as the gardaí to make sure that publicans stop serving drink at 11.30 p.m. and that their premises are cleared by 12 o'clock. The fines, [2072] which have been increased substantially, will give an impetus to both the publicans and the people coming into the premises to get their act together.

I would also like to refer to the special exemption orders. The Minister stated that he will not give an exemption after 1 a.m. on Monday morning. This is a good idea because absenteeism in the workplace has been such a great problem. I am disappointed that no reference has been made to Sunday morning. As Senator Kiely has stated, the only exemption you can get is until 12 o'clock. For some years the social night out in Ireland has been Saturday night, since people can attend Mass on Saturday evening. I was informed that you could not get an exemption later than 12 o'clock on Sunday morning as the Church had requested the Government, at the time the legislation was being drawn up, to have this exemption because of Mass on Sunday morning. I am told by historians that this was the main reason this legislation was implemented. Since Mass is now available on Saturday evening and the majority of practising citizens go to Mass on a Saturday evening that argument can no longer be maintained.

Many of these establishments which have the exemptions for Saturday and Sunday night are dependent upon the extensions for their turnover. This is when they use their premises to the fullest extent. This creates extra jobs. Many college students and young people work part time. This is another good reason why there should be an exemption on Sunday morning. There is a great need for change here and it should be looked at seriously. I would have no quibble about an exemption on Sunday morning until 1.30 a.m. At the moment many of the establishments involved in this type of business are flouting the law on Saturday nights. Most places are staying open after 12 o'clock. There is not a lot that can be done about it. The police are turning a blind eye to it because, if they implemented the law rigorously, none of these establishments would be able to survive.

Going back to Senator McMahon's [2073] suggestion about fishing, I find it rather amusing that one law can be so rigorously pursued — the rod licence — and another law which has been flouted over the past number of years is not vigorously enforced. The Minister should take this into account. I would be prepared to consider an amendment for Committee Stage to have the exemption for Sunday morning extended until 1.30 a.m.

I would like to make some points on under-age drinking. Under section 33, for the first time it has been made an offence for a person under 18 years to purchase alcohol or to consume it in any place other than a private residence. This is a most welcome aspect of the Bill. Senator Norris spoke quite well about the cider parties which are going on in Dublin and all over the country. This new provision should be a great deterrent. It should help the gardaí to get rid of that problem.

Section 34 of the Bill proposes that children should be allowed into bars at any time during permitted hours if they are accompanied by their parents or guardians. There are pros and cons to that section but, all in all, I find it realistic. It is up to parents to know whether it is proper to bring their children into public premises at a given hour of the night. They should be permitted to do that.

Section 37 is an important new provision giving the gardaí power to seize containers of alcohol which are in the possession of under-age persons in any place other than an occupied private residence. This should be vigilantly policed. These cider parties are extremely threatening to the public and I wish the gardaí every success in their efforts to rid us of that problem.

Section 38 deals mainly with the employment of under-age persons in licensed premises. Under the 1924 provision, now being repealed, no female under 18 or no male under 16, with certain exceptions, can be employed to sell drink in a licensed premises. Section 38 now gives a common minimum age limit of 18 years for both males and females, and a minimum age limit of 16 for apprentices [2074] and specified relatives. I welcome that section of the Bill because when family-run bars are busy, especially in the country, everybody helps out. You could have a ten-year old or a 12-year old stacking bottles. This gives them fair scope.

Finally, I would like to deal with ID cards. This is a very effective way of trying to policy under-age drinking. Much responsibility has been put on the publican. It is very difficult for a publican to know whether somebody is over 18 years. I am sorry the Minister has not seen fit to make it compulsory to have ID cards. I remember that, as a student in the United States, I used to have an ID card. If you wanted to have a drink in New Jersey you had to have a ID card stating that you were over 21 years of age. If you did not have the card, you were not served alcohol. That is the only way forward in trying to curtail under-age drinking. It is the only way to help publicans. It is the only way to help anybody who is involved in the selling of intoxicating liquor. They can know positively from the ID card whether a person is under-age or not. The fines for a publican selling to under-age drinkers are quite hefty and he should be given every help in trying to get rid of this problem. I may put down an amendment on Committee Stage regarding the exemption laws on a Sunday morning. However, I believe the Bill is very worth while and I welcome it.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I am sure the Minister who is with us today did not expect to be here at this hour but he can consider himself fortunate he was not here last night. I am sure we will not sit as late tonight as we did last night. I think there is a general welcome for the Bill, not only from the Members of this House and the other House, but also from publicans, hoteliers, those who run restaurants and the general public.

It is difficult to understand why we should have had to wait so long for this Bill. When I was a Member of the other House some years back I urged the then Minister for Justice on at least two occasions to address the problem in [2075] relation to drink which had existed here for many years. It is not easy to comprehend why we have had to wait 26 years for a major Bill dealing with an important matter. While many of us could speculate on the reasons we did not have this legislation previously it is before us now.

Some consideration should be given to transferring responsibility for this Bill from the Department of Justice to another Department. I believe that if it had been the responsibility of another Department they may have had more time to give attention to it and some of the changes now proposed in the Bill which would benefit everybody generally might have been introduced many years ago. Complaints have been made by many sections of the community and individuals about the lack of adequate control, or the relaxing of control where it was considered too stringent. Despite those complaints by the general public and various organisations it has taken us 26 years to get around to considering the legislation of 1962.

The changes in this Bill relate mainly to the licensing of restaurants. There are small changes in the opening hours of the pubs and the introduction of ID cards for under-age persons. With regard to the licensing of restaurants, much discussion has taken place over the years and the Minister was urged to bring in this legislation for the benefit of our tourists. In this regard I made a distinction between native tourists and foreign tourists. I do not believe our licensing laws have prevented foreign tourists from coming here but I do believe our licensing laws have made touring in the State less enjoyable for those who choose to stay at home and holiday in Ireland.

The licensing of restaurants will be more beneficial to the Irish tourist in his own country than it will to foreigners coming here. It was not easy for a couple with young children to have an enjoyable meal because they either had to take their children to a licensed premises or else do without a drink. Many people who may not normally drink during the year might like to drink when they are on holidays. [2076] I do not know how many restaurants will apply for the licence but some will and it will be there for those who wish to avail of it.

The fee for a licence is being increased to £3,000. When the Minister introduced the Bill I do not think he intended it to be so high but as a result of discussions and representations it was increased to £3,000. I have heard comments here today that this is not high enough but I disagree with those. Some people said the fee was set at £3,000 on the assumption that a restaurant was now going into the liquor business, which they are to an extent by serving drink with a meal, but I do not think it is right to compare the £3,000 for a licence for a restaurant with the £10,000, and I have heard as much as £20,000, for a licence for a public house which can serve drink at all times. There is a restriction on the sale of drink in restaurants and I think the figure of £3,000 is high enough. I would not go along with those who hoped the Minister would increase that fee.

I have never understood why the 1962 legislation provided for a continuance of the holy hour in Dublin and Cork. I could never understand what difference there was between Dublin, and Limerick or Waterford and why publicans here had to close their premises during that time. I think this was one of the points I raised in the other House when I urged the Minister to bring in legislation to deal with the liquor laws. I am glad that is now being done away with at long last.

I welcome the extension of the ten minutes drinking up time to 30 minutes. I do not go along with many of the arguments that have been made by Senators and Deputies that the ten minutes drinking time was insufficient. I believe it was insufficient because of our rounds system. We should mount a campaign to educate the public to drink what they like but to buy it themselves and let their friends look after themselves. I know that sounds a bit harsh. It is extraordinary that Irish people seem to be more generous in providing drink for their friends than they are in providing anything else for their friends. When it comes to drink the cost, [2077] either in money or time does not matter. I believe publicians found it difficult to clear their pubs during the ten minutes drinking-up time because even though a person might have finished his drink, somebody who had not played his part in supplying drink for his friends used to rush to buy another drink to make sure he was not labelled as the one who would take a drink but not return it.

Coupled with the increase in drinking up time from ten minutes to 30 minutes, I would like the Minister to mount a campaign to educate the public on how to drink. Too little attention has been given to the educational aspect of this major problem. Senator Norris was a bit dramatic and alarmist in his contribution. I would not go as far as he went in relation to many of the arguments he made but certainly I would like the Minister, if he is not empowered to expend money in mounting an anti-round campaign to seek a few thousand pounds from the Minister for Finance to mount such a campaign. We had such a campaign a few years ago and it was quite effective but it is now time to mount another campaign on the anti-round system.

I do not think the fines for publicans on a blanket scale is a good idea because there are large publicans and small publicans. I think this case was made by Senator Kiely earlier, and I agree with what he said. I have been in a pub which could seat 3,000 people and I have been in other pubs which could not seat 36 or even fewer people. It is unfair to have a penalty right across the board for people who step outside the law because a person who has a pub which can seat 3,000 people cannot be compared with a small family business in a country village. Perhaps the Minister would give some consideration to this in future legislation, and I hope we will not have to wait another 26 years for it.

The Bill proposes an increase in the fines for an individual who is found on a premises after drinking hours. The Minister is proposing to increase the fine from a minimum of £1 and a maximum of £5 to a minimum of £25 and a maximum of £50. This is not severe enough. This [2078] should be used as a deterrent and many publicans have difficulty in trying to get people out of their publichouses. A publican's hands are tied because he is dealing with the people who put the bread on his table and he cannot just catch them by the scruff of the neck and throw them out on the street. The onus should be on the person who is consuming drink on the premises to vacate the premises at the hour provided for in the legislation. If the fine is to act as a deterrent to a person who refuses to leave, the Minister should consider increasing it somewhat and put a far greater onus on the individual.

I venture to say that there is a lot less drunkenness today than in my young days. Some Senators may frown when I say that but I am probably older than they are and I remember when one could not go out on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday evening without seeing several people drunk on the roadsides. I know transport was not as good at that time but I would still venture to say that there is less drunkenness today than there was formerly. That is not to say that there are fewer alcoholics. Nowadays people eat better and they probably make sure they have a meal before they go out for a drink, whereas in my young days the working man went into the pub on his way home from work on certain evenings of the week, not as often as they go in today, without first having a meal and he would stay there for several hours. Now he goes to the pub more often but he has a meal before he goes. I believe this has reduced the level of drunkenness. I am delighted that has happened but that is not to say I am not concerned about the amount of drink being consumed, particularly by young people. Here again insufficient work is being done on the education front. The Minister should consider bringing before the Cabinet a programme of education in this area.

Many clubs have sprung up all over the county and this has happened because they can get worth-while revenue from the sale of drink. Unfortunately these clubs bring more young people into contact with drink at an earlier age. Parents are demented because they know they [2079] should encourage their children to play football and other games and to support these clubs but many of them are hesitant, and some refuse, to send their children to such clubs because of the sale of drink on these premises. I am pleased that it will no longer be necessary for a garda to have an order from an inspector before he can inspect a club because very often this meant that the clubs could trade without the fear of inspection. Gardaí used to visit clubs far less frequently than they visited regular licensed premises. I am glad that anomaly has now been scrapped in this Bill.

The Minister is right in allowing young people greater freedom of access to licensed premises, because if you tell an Irish person that he cannot look behind a wall, it makes him more eager to see what is behind the wall. There should be an educational programme to ensure that they know why they cannot be served or drink intoxicating liquor at an early age, and also to make them aware of the dangers of alcohol for them in future life if drinking is not controlled. We should face up to the fact that alcohol is a drug, though I find that very hard to understand because I have been taking it since I was 21 years of age. I confess that I was almost drunk — I do not think I was ever drunk — about twice in my life and that was due more to tasting different drinks rather than the amount of one particular drink I consumed. I have never had any difficulty in controlling drink. I can take a drink in much the same way as I drink a cup of tea or any other beverage. However, I accept that many people cannot do that. I believe that most people who cannot control their intake of drink either got it freely at an early stage or were prevented from getting it until too late. Those are the two extremes. It is good for young people to see drink being taken in a proper manner, in particular by their parents or relatives. I am disappointed that the legislation does not provide for an anomaly which has existed in my part of the country for a long time. I am talking about the mile rule. I am not sure if the 1962 legislation covers this [2080] provision for the mile rule. In County Dublin it is not possible to procure a new licence for a premises within a mile of a premises with an existing old licence but yet one can move across the county boundary into Counties Kildare or Wicklow and procure a licence within half a mile of a licensed premises. This is a complete contradiction. The greatest development in Europe in the past ten or 15 years has taken place in County Dublin and, despite the vast increase in population, if a person wants to open a new licensed premises it must be a mile or more from the nearest old licensed premises.

Mr. McEllistrim: Information on Thomas McEllistrim Jnr.  Zoom on Thomas McEllistrim Jnr.  Even after buying two licences.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  Yes, even after buying two licences. There is a premises in the centre of Tallaght which was built as a public house ten or 12 years ago. When the person who built it informed me that it was a public house I had a wager with him that he would not be able to open it until the legislation was changed. I will not say what he said to me, but he was sure he would get the licence. That premises is still without a licence today because it is within a mile of a public house in the centre of Tallaght village. Some public houses have been able to open. For instance, a premises was opened on the Firhouse Road within a mile of an old premises. There was no objector, in that case. If one person objects, the court must rule that a new premises cannot open within a mile of an existing licence.

I am extremely disappointed that this anomaly has not been faced up to in the legislation. Many people have built immense pubs and I spoke earlier about a pub which can seat 3,000 people. It was said to be the largest pub in Europe at one stage. I do not know if it still is. The reason that pub was built was that nobody else could start up a business near it. That is a comparatively new licensed premises and the owner knew nobody else could open another premises within a mile of his. The new towns of County Dublin must be the driest in Europe because of [2081] this anomaly and I hope we will not have to wait a further 26 years before it is addressed.

The Minister set out to deal with certain aspects of the licensing laws in this Intoxicating Liquor Bill and he has spoken of further legislation but he has not indicated when we are likely to get it. In the latter part of his speech he said there were a number of matters including, for example, the general question of late night drinking provisions, which would need to be thoroughly examined and dealt with within a subsequent Bill. I hope that subsequent Bill will come before us during this session and that we will not have to wait any longer to correct the anomaly which has existed in County Dublin.

I welcome the Bill and I want to give credit to the Minister for the way in which he has handled it. His predecessors shied away from it and I think this was because they thought it was the hornet's nest. It has had a much easier passage through the other House than was anticipated by many people and I am sure it will get the same speedy passage here. There is a general welcome by the public for these changes. I sincerely hope the Department of Justice will not be so over-burdened in the next couple of years that they will not have time to look at the points I have mentioned. I hope they will consider an education programme and the abolition of the mile rule for County Dublin and that they will monitor this legislation when it comes into effect. It is not the answer to all the problems and indeed we may be over-answering some of the problems. I hope when the Bill is passed and the legislation is effective that the book will not be closed. After a four or five year period a detailed look should be taken at the restaurants which take up the special licence to see whether they have given the service we expect them to give.

Mr. McDonald: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  I have listened with great attention to the debate today and on the last occasion. It has been an interesting debate, and rightly so. This legislation impinges on practically every [2082] household in the country. I agree with Senator Norris that many people who do not drink or partake themselves find that the over-indulgence of some members of the public impinges on the peace, solitude and quietness of ordinary citizens. I want to make three very brief points on the Bill.

Many publicans have serious reservations about the new restaurant licences. I hope the Minister can allay their fears by indicating that that section will be monitored very closely and policed. I think it is very civilized that people who go out for a meal or patronise a restaurant should have the opportunity of enjoying a drink or drinks with their meal. I welcome the provision. It was a long campaign to have restaurants licensed.

The policy for years back has clearly been to reduce the number of liquor licences in the country so that publicans or prospective publicans had to acquire two licences on the open market in order to get a new one. Now there seems to be in this Bill a new provision whereby liquor licences are literally on demand, provided certain standards are met. The Minister must give us further reassurance on that matter. I do not think the restaurant licence should be tolerated, if it was another way of going into the pub business. I am interested in tourism and I think restaurants should have the facility to provide customers with the drink of their choice.

Perhaps the Minister in his reply could comment on what is a substantial meal? I should like to see a definition of it written into the Bill. If somebody invited me for a substantial meal, I would be expecting a three or four course lunch or dinner. That should be written into the Bill. In the interests of equity there should be an amendment made to the definitions section.

The second point I want to make, very briefly, is the problem that the ordinary publicans have, and I think it a very telling one. Publicans, certainly in the country areas, are business people who live with their families on the licensed premises. [2083] They may be selling or dispensing two barrels or two kegs of beer a week, or perhaps in some of the larger towns in the provincial areas, an average of somewhere between six and ten or six and 12 barrels a week. That is absolutely chickenfeed when compared with pubs in Dublin or the big provincial towns.

While the Minister on Second Stage said that we are having a uniform system, doing away with the holy hour, having the same system right across the country, he has included fines in this legislation. The point has been very clearly made by the previous speaker, Senator McMahon, fines across the board of £800 are unfortunate and are very unfair to the ordinary family publican in the country. I would like to add my voice to my colleagues who have suggested that a greater sense of responsibility should be expected of the customer, of the drinker. A customer for whatever reason may refuse to leave after the drinking up time of 30 minutes which some people think is good, more publicans think it is too long. I think the fines for being caught on the premises after the publican has been trying to get people to leave should have an element of deterrent, and I hope to see the Minister bringing in a substantial fine and greatly increasing that fine. It is unfair to leave all the responsibility on the publican who, after all, cannot insult his customers to get them out. If he wants to remain in business and provide for his family he needs to have their patronage the following night or the following week.

I would like very briefly at this stage to repeat those two points. The fine on the publican of £800 is altogether too high if we are take into account the small family business at the crossroads that is selling two or three kegs of beer per week, when compared with the huge big modern lounges that can seat hundreds or thousands of customers. The other point I make is that greater responsibility be placed on the customer. I should like to see a deterrent built into the fine system so that it would be easier for the publican to clear his premises.

[2084]Minister of State at the Department of Energy (Mr. Smith): Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Let me congratulate the Members of the Seanad who had such a late session last night and who still demonstrated they had so much stamina left today for their deliberations on this Bill. It is very gratifying to note that there is a general welcome by the Members of the Seanad for the provisions contained in this Bill.

The Minister pointed out in his introductory speech that the Bill seeks to strike a balance between restrictive measures which are necessary to counter abuses and what might be described as liberalising provisions including, in response to public demand, those in relation to restaurant licences and changes in the permitted hours. The Minister for Justice is, as you know, unavoidably absent today but he went to exceptional lengths to address the various problems which have confronted us in this area for a very long time and he sought and received submissions from the sectoral interests involved. I believe the Minister has succeeded, as is evidenced by the degree of public and political support for his proposals, in achieving a fair and proper balance having regard to the issues involved and indeed his concern for the betterment of the common good.

Some Senators felt that there might be scope for further extensions in the permitted hours. Senator Manning referred to recent changes in the licensing laws in Scotland and Senator Ross indicated that the law of supply and demand might be allowed to apply so that there would be no fixed national permitted hours for licensed premises, such as is said to be the case in some countries in continental Europe. So far as the experience in Scotland is concerned, it appears that up to the coming into effect of the Scottish Licensing Act, 1976, the permitted weekday hours in Scotland were from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a two and a half hour closing in the afternoon and only hotels and restaurants were allowed to sell drinks on Sundays.

Under the 1976 Act, public houses in Scotland were permitted to open between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Sundays [2085] with a four-hour afternoon break. It is worth noting that the basic hours in Scotland remain more restrictive than the basic hours in this country. New licensing boards were set up in Scotland which were given power to permit further additional hours as they thought fit. We have not got figures for the number of extensions being given in Scotland but it should be noted that at least over 46,000 special exemptions were granted by the courts in this country. The overwhelming majority of these were granted to premises which, because of the nature of the extension, had to provide substantial meals in order to obtain the extension. It is submitted that for this country anyway combining extensions with the consumption of food is the right approach.

The general experience of the effect of these changes appears to have been favourable but it appears that in Scotland, even with these changes, basic licensing hours remain more restrictive than they are here and to use the Scottish experience as an argument for abandoning control over the sale of liquor to adults would be to argue from a false premise. The sale of alcohol in Scotland is still firmly controlled. It is submitted that the right approach to changes in the liquor laws is gradual liberalisation and anything more dramatic than that would be irresponsible.

With regard to Senator Ross's comments on the very extensive permitted hours in some continental countries, I should point out that some of these countries also experience serious drink-related problems such as very high rates of alcoholism and related ailments leading to massive official publicity campaigns against the dangers of drink abuse. Generally I would say that while it is of interest to note developments in the liquor licensing legislation in other countries, particular aspects of those laws should not be considered in isolation. Any decision to amend permitted hours here must be pragmatic and have regard to local conditions and local experience and I am confident that most Senators will agree that the balance struck in the Bill before the House is about right.

Senator McEllistrim welcomed the Bill [2086] generally. In reply to a point made by him, I can say that the special restaurant licences provided for in the Bill will be given only to restaurants of good standard and will not be issued to cafe type premises. I would like to confirm also that the intention in the Bill is to restrict special exemptions for Monday mornings to 1 a.m. Section 29 provides accordingly.

Senator Manning suggested that there should be an appeal to the court against Bord Fáilte decisions relating to the issue of their certificates in connection with the grant of special restaurant licences. This matter was fully debated in the Dáil both on Committee and Report Stages. It was pointed out that a provision of this kind would probably have the effect that there would be an appeal in every case to the court against refusal by the board to grant their certificate. This would mean that the court will have to become an inspecting body in such cases so as to decide whether the restaurant in question was well equipped, and provided a high standard of catering etc. This would be an inappropriate function for the court and clearly would be a matter that should be left for decision by Bord Fáilte, on the basis of the professional expertise available to them.

In this context also I want to assure Senator Cregan that the fears he expressed will prove groundless when he takes into account the fact that the grant of special restaurant licences will apply only to those premises which have as their primary function the provision of meals and which meet exacting standards with regard to the physical aspects of the premises. Quite clearly the definition of restaurant excludes bed and breakfast premises. The primary business of these establishments is not the provision of substantial meals but rather the business of providing accommodation.

The same Senator seemed worried that people might get drunk more easily in restaurants. I think we could debate for a very long time the special circumstances which would lead to drunkenness. I feel that argument at least tends to ignore the natural connection between food and drink. Anyone drinking in a restaurant must consume a substantial meal. Persons [2087] drinking without the benefits of food would seem to be far more prone to come under the influence of drink than those who combine food and drink.

Mr. Cregan: Information on Denis Cregan  Zoom on Denis Cregan  It is not true at all.

Mr. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Senator Manning also referred to the danger that waiting areas in premises having special restaurant licences could develop a pub trade and might become unduly large in relation to the size of the dining area. This matter was discussed fully in the Dáil, and, indeed, the definition of the waiting area in section 6 of the Bill was amended in the Dáil to provide against these dangers.

Reference was also made to the provision regarding age cards in Part IV of the Bill. It was suggested that there might be room for improvement in the drafting of the provisions which make presentation of an age card a defence for a licensee against a charge relating to an under-age drinking offence. On this point I should say that drafting of these provisions is under urgent examination and, if an amendment should prove desirable, this will be brought forward on Committee Stage.

Senator O'Callaghan suggested that it should be made possible to prosecute the parents of the young people where under-age drinking offences were committed. It might be noted that section 34 (7) of the Bill provides that if a child under 15 years of age is found in a bar unaccompanied by his parent or guardian, the parent or guardian will be guilty of an offence and will be charged accordingly. There is no similar provision in relation to offences in respect of young persons aged under 18 years. It is doubtful that a provision of this kind would be appropriate in such cases. This is because young persons aged 16 or 17 must be assumed to be mature enough to be responsible for their own actions.

That is why we now have for the first time a provision in section 33 whereby it is provided that, if a person aged under 18 years purchases or consumes intoxicating [2088] liquor, he will commit an offence and will be charged accordingly. Therefore, for the first time in a number of years the question of under-age drinking is being addressed seriously in this Bill. However, I do accept the premise that all of the responsibility does not lie with the licensed trade. Parents and guardians and young people themselves must know from the scale of evidence now available with regard to the abuse that arises from excessive drinking that it can lead to an appalling personal, family and national consequences. Failure, however, by the public to respond in a reasonable and mature way to these present abuses will mean the speedy and rigorous enforcement of these new exacting and legal provisions.

Senator Mooney was concerned about allowing children into pubs with their parents. I can understand Senator Mooney's concern in this area. Indeed, on this point there is no monopoly of wisdom. One has to just weigh up the arguments for an against but then, at the end of the day, a decision must be made. I can see no good reason for keeping children out of pubs for the sake of it. It is probably better for young persons to see the inside of pubs before they are 15 years so that some sort of mystique has not built up in their minds about them. Once in pubs their behaviour will be controlled because they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

A number of Senators pressed for further changes in relation to the prohibited hours. Senator Ross and Senator McGowan suggested that these provisions should be liberalised to bring them more into line with some continental countries. As I have already indicated, our policy in this respect must be determined primarily by conditions applying within our country. Senator McGowan also pressed for special concessions for the Border areas. On this point I must refer to the anomalies which existed up to 1960 because of local variations. Under the 1960 Act, a policy of uniformity in permitted hours was adopted. This has proved to be the correct [2089] form. This included geographical uniformity throughout the country and uniformity as between different types of licensed premises and registered clubs. To abandon that solidly based experience at this stage would in my view be a most retrograde step. Indeed, to try to solve the problem to which Senator McGowan is obviously so personally committed would only mean a relocation of the same problem further South.

In so far as permitted hours are concerned, the other main points raised related to Sunday hours. It was suggested that closing time on Sunday afternoon should be 2.30 p.m. or 3 p.m. instead of the present 2 o'clock closing. On this point I should say that there has been no significant demand for a change of this kind during the years when this Bill was being prepared. It is not a change that could now be taken on board.

The other point related to the period between 11.30 p.m. and 12 midnight on Sundays. It has now been represented that a run through should be allowed for licensed hotels and restaurants so that they could continue to serve drink or allow drink to be consumed during this half hour. I would point out that one effect of this would be that drink could be consumed in such premises where they get special exemptions from Sunday afternoon up to 1 o'clock on Monday morning. This would completely change the traditional pattern of drinking on Sundays. Accordingly, the proposal must also be viewed against the background of concern at the number of special exemptions now being granted. These are now being given at the rate of 46,000 a year. Consideration has been given to restricting this number and the Bill provides that Monday morning exemptions should be restricted to 1 a.m. Any proposal to allow exemptions to be given at any time on Sunday would go completely against this policy based as it is on the widespread concern about the abuses associated with exemptions already being granted. Under the Bill, Sunday closing is being extended from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. and I think a further liberalisation of Sunday [2090] opening canot be contemplated.

Senator Bohan was unhappy with the 30 minutes drinking-up time. It is considered that 30 minutes is quite adequate for persons to finish their drinks. Comparisons with restaurants are invalid. Restaurants can serve drink with meals up to 12.30 a.m. This is not a drinking-up time but part of the normal permitted hours. These hours are similar to those in premises which can at present serve drink with meals, for example, a licensed restaurant and hotel. Senator Bohan also considered drinks consumed in the waiting area should be paid for at the same time as the meal. Section 7 of the Bill makes it clear that all drink supplied and consumed in the restaurant in the waiting or dining area must be paid for at the same time as the meal is paid for.

Senators O'Callaghan, Kiely, Bohan and Murphy were concerned that the fines provided in the Bill were too high. The fines proposed are maximum. This allows for full flexibility within that maximum in the amount of monetary fine that the court may impose. The fines for prohibited hours offences not only take into account inflation since 1962 but also the fact that since 1986 endorsement for such offences is discretionary and not mandatory, as had been the case. I would like to emphasise also, since a number of Members referred to the maximum fines in the context of what would appear to be discrimination against the smaller pubs, it will be clear that the Bill sets out the maximum fine. It is at the discretion of the court to take the special considerations of any individual case into account. I am quite certain that that practice will continue in the future.

Senators O'Callaghan and McGowan mentioned anomalies in the operation of exemptions. It is not the intention of this Bill to deal in any significant way with extensions. However, last year there were about 46,000 exemptions granted under the Special Exemption Order provisions. This is by any stretch of the imagination a very high number. It is not possible, because of the problems that are involved in that particular area, to deal with it in this legislation. It will probably [2091] mean a considerable delay in the putting into effect of these existing provisions. Nevertheless it is an area which has to be addressed and the Minister for Justice will be giving it very active consideration.

Several Senators referred to the question of enforcement of the licensing laws. I want to take up this point and to emphasise that the intention is that these laws as now proposed to be amended will be strictly enforced. This applies to all aspects. Some minor amendments of the prohibited hours are proposed in the Bill. These are new provisions to combat under-age drinking, as well as provisions to counter abuses in registered clubs. It will be noted also that the Bill provides for specific restrictions on special restaurant licences. I can assure Senators that the intention is that these provisions and all other provisions in the Bill will be fully enforced.

A large number of other points of a general nature were made. Senators can [2092] rest assured that the Minister will take full account of all of the suggestions which were made on a very constructive basis, and these will be considered between now and Committee Stage.

In conclusion I would again like to thank the Senators for the general welcome they have extended to the Bill and for the constructive attitude they have displayed towards it.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  When is it proposed to take the next Stage?

Mr. McEllistrim: Information on Thomas McEllistrim Jnr.  Zoom on Thomas McEllistrim Jnr.  Next Thursday.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 9 June 1988.

The Seanad adjourned at 6.25 p.m. until 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 8 June 1988.

Last Updated: 13/09/2010 19:57:31 First Page Previous Page Page of 4 Next Page Last Page