Taoiseach under backbench fire for 'booze curtain' law
Taoiseach Enda Kenny came under fire from his own party members over the Government's plan to force small business owners to introduce so-called 'booze curtains' in their shops.
New legislation aimed at reducing the advertising of alcohol has caused major tensions within Fine Gael due to proposals making it illegal to have alcohol on display in shops.
At Fine Gael's parliamentary party meeting last night, Mr Kenny faced calls from members to remove the provision of the act which requires shopkeepers to introduce measures which would ensure alcohol is not visible to customers.
Around 17 party members raised concerns at the meeting about the impact the new legislation could have on local businesses.
Waterford Senator Paudie Coffey led the charge, insisting the Government should introduce any changes incrementally so the impact could be evaluated. Mr Coffey said the legislation should target large retailers rather than local shopkeepers.
Junior Forestry Minister Andrew Doyle said keeping alcohol behind a curtain would result in more intrigue around drink for teenagers rather than deter them from drinking. Dublin South West TD Colm Brophy likened the curtains to entering a nightclub in the 1970s.
Other TDs who criticised the bill were John Paul Phelan, Michael D'Arcy and Joe Carey, while senators Ray Butler, Paddy Burke and Michelle Mulherin also called for the requirement of 'booze curtains' to be removed from the final legislation.
Earlier, Junior Minister for Public Health Marcella Corcoran Kennedy was attacked by senators over the legislation.
Fine Gael members are generally supportive of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which includes a law restricting the advertisement of alcohol and introduction of minimum pricing.
Politicians from all parties have been subjected to intense lobbying from small business owners who fear the impact the introduction of a 'booze curtain' will have on their shops.
Alcohol abuse groups have also been urging senators to allow the legislation to pass.