Employers’ group Ibec, drinks group Diageo, Dublin Airport Authority and three public relations firms lobbied more than 50 TDs including seven Government Ministers about the controversial alcohol Bill currently before the Dáil.
According to the latest figures from the Register of Lobbying for the period from May 1st to August 31st, two Government department assistant secretaries and three ministerial special advisers were lobbied by the industry groups and PR companies about the Bill, which is in its final stages in the Dáil.
The register also shows public health organisations including Alcohol Action Ireland, the Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society lobbied 15 TDs including Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe about the legislation that targets problem drinking in Ireland.
It is the first Bill in the State’s history to deal with alcohol as a public health issue. All previous alcohol-related legislation has been linked to licensing, road traffic and legal issues and dealt with as a Department of Justice matter.
A number of smaller drinks manufacturers including Cooley Distilleries and Slane Castle Irish Whiskey Ltd also lobbied TDs and ministers in their area over their concerns about the impact of the legislation on their firms.
The latest lobbying comes as the final stages of the Bill are to be debated in the Dáil on Wednesday with 10 amendments to be considered.
The most controversial is likely to be an amendment to provisions to prevent alcohol promotion and advertising in State or local authority-owned parks and venues that run concerts and other gigs.
In future any drinks company that wins the licence to serve alcohol at a concert at publicly-owned venues such as the Phoenix Park or Marlay Park, will be permitted to sell drink but will not be allowed to advertise or promote alcohol sales for the event. The same conditions will not apply to privately owned grounds such as GAA venues.
Thirteen TDs including four from Fine Gael - Peter Fitzpatrick, Tony McLoughlin, Pat Deering, Peter Burke, four Fianna Fail - Eamon Scanlon, Bobby Aylward, Declan Breathnach, Kevin O’Keeffe, Labour TD Seán Sherlock, and four Independents - Noel Grealish, Carol Nolan, Michael Fitzmaurice, Michael Collins have submitted an amendment to reverse this provision.
An amendment proposed by Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly to phase out alcohol sponsorship at sports events by the end of 2023 is expected to be opposed as the Government decided before it was introduced that the Bill would not deal with alcohol sponsorship.