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 Header Item Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017: Referral to Select Committee
 Header Item Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 965 No. 6

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  3 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty] That is why we are going to pass this Bill. I know the Deputies all want to make amendments to it and that is fine. We can discuss it. The reason for passing this legislation is to make sure that employees are treated with dignity and respect by the people they work for.

Deputies have referred to the fact that employers have been yielding huge profits over recent years. It would be remiss of me not to say that when a company is making money, the people responsible for its success are those who work for it. Business owners who do not reflect on that are exceptionally foolish. A happy workforce is an exceptionally productive one. We all have people working for us in our local teams and in here and we all know that the more respect is paid to employees, the more they give back. That is what this legislation will achieve, as amended by those who will make amendments in the coming weeks.

Many have said that while this legislation will be great, if it does not have the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC, inspectors to make sure it is implemented it will sit on a shelf and not be read. We have spoken to the WRC which has told us categorically that it is well equipped and has enough inspectors to be able to manage this legislation. It was brought to my attention last week that it set itself a target in the back of its annual report last year, expecting this legislation to be passed this year. I welcome that. As we should do with all legislation, if after a few months we reflect on it and find that it is not doing what we expected it to do, we will come back here to amend it. That may involve something as simple as giving more inspectors to the WRC. Our aim is to make sure employees feel comfortable making complaints and that those will be adjudicated on with respect for their dignity. They will have a sense of self-worth by getting up every day to go to a job they like, that pays the wages, and that allows them to have financial stability and to be treated with respect by other human beings who are making money off their backs.

I know the Deputies opposite will support the Bill because they want to do what I want to do, and we will come to a happy conclusion on Committee Stage and get a Bill that will protect workers. We want to make sure that in the few cases where unscrupulous employers take advantage of people, they will not be able to do it on our watch. I commend the Bill to the House.

  Question put and agreed to.

Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017: Referral to Select Committee

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I move:

That the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 be referred to the Select Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection pursuant to Standing Orders 84A(3)(a) and 149(1).

  Question put and agreed to.

Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Deputy John Brassil: Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. As we all know, the abuse and overuse of alcohol is now a scourge in our society, particularly for the younger generation. Very serious health problems arise from overuse of alcohol, in particular from what is now known as binge drinking. As a nation we need to get to grips with this. I welcome many of the measures in this Bill, which is trying to bring about some measure of control over this problem for the sake our children and grandchildren.

The drinks industry is lobbying hard for changes to this Bill. We have to consider what it has done in recent years such as introducing alcopops which have a high alcohol content and, because they are very sweet and easy to drink, can be consumed in large quantities, leading to serious health issues. It has made cheap drink available. The industry might argue that it is the retail outlets that sell cheap but I think it is a combination of both. I welcome the introduction of minimum pricing.

There is a proposal to state on the label that alcohol can cause cancer. It may cause cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and other health problems. Should we consider a label that states "Alcohol seriously damages your health", as opposed to specifying a disease such as cancer? Should we look to the industry to fund the HSE and the Government to produce advertisements showing the harmful effects of alcohol? People can then make up their own minds. The alcohol industry will always be one step ahead of us when it comes to advertising. It will always come up with a smarter advertising campaign that will grab the consumer's attention. It might be a better strategy to have the ability and the money to fight back with advertising campaigns that show its harmful effects.

We should also reconsider the restrictions on advertising. If the industry has to move away from television, it will go to the Internet. No matter how big we build the mousetrap, the mouse will always get bigger. We really need to be as clever as the industry and inform people accordingly. These amendments came in late in the day. I would like the Minister to consider them. If we can come up with a better way to inform our population about the harmful effects of alcohol, we should do that. I understand that in France advertising of alcohol was banned approximately 30 years ago. What effect has that had? We could learn from the mistakes or otherwise of places that have banned advertising. I urge that this Bill be passed speedily. It is urgently needed to educate our population and stop it from continuing to overconsume alcohol and especially to stop the scourge of binge drinking among the younger generation.

Deputy Seán Haughey: Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey I support this landmark Bill. It is a game changer in many respects. It has the same significance as the smoking ban introduced in 2004 in the teeth of strong opposition from vested interests. The time has come to confront our difficult relationship with alcohol.


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