Today in the Seanad I spoke on the Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill 2017 which was introduced by Senator Billy Lawless and co-signed by myself and other Independent Senators. I am delighted that this issue which has been raised on a yearly basis to no avail, has finally been introduced in the Seanad. We know that Ireland’s relationship with alcohol dates to the stone age and like many other countries we have an ambivalent relationship with it. On one hand, excessive drinking is a serious social and health problem, on the other hand the pub, as a focus for drinking, socialising, and culture is an important part of our national identity. We therefore have a dual perception of alcohol as a problem to be managed and a pleasure to be enjoyed and our policy and legislative developments have reflected that ambiguity. As legislators, we are tasked with balancing the right of individuals to make their own lifestyle choices with the ethics of legitimate intervention in public health by the State.