Taoiseach insists proposed new alcohol laws "put public health first"

Concerns have been raised over the potential effect of the laws on tourism and trade

The Taoiseach has insisted proposed new alcohol laws aim to put public health before business interests.

Lobbyists have warned that certain aspects of the Public Health Alcohol Bill will reduce Ireland's alcohol exports.

Concerns have also been raised about the potential effects on tourism – and the number of people visiting Irish distilleries.

The Public Health Alcohol Bill is due to return to the Dáil for debate later this week.

Speaking this morning, Leo Varadkar said he does not expect any further changes to the legislation before it goes to a vote:

“We need to put public health first,” he said.

“If you look at the number of people who die prematurely because of alcohol; the number of people in our hospitals at the moment because of alcohol.”

“Sexual assault; child abuse; violence in our streets; road death – all very much linked to alcohol.

"Exports are important but maybe not that important.”

The bill seeks to introduce a minimum price for alcohol – and will place health warnings on products.

It will also tackle drink promotions.

The alcohol industry however has lobbied against the bill - and claimed the data used in support of the measures by the Department of Health is misleading.

Industry representatives have warned that the proposed measures are unnecessarily restrictive with education initiatives “entirely missing” from the bill.

Reporting from Sean Defoe