Dáil Éireann - Volume 542 - 17 October, 2001
Written Answers. - Underage Drinking.
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
 165. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the discretion available to a licensee to admit any customer to his licensed premises with a black (garda) ID; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24410/01]
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
166. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the valid forms of proof of age and identity available to young people over 18 years of age for entry to public houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24412/01]
Mr. O'Donoghue Mr. O'Donoghue
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 166 together.
The principal legislative provisions relating to intoxicating liquor and persons under the age of 18 years are set out in Part IV of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988, as amended by the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2000. In particular, section 31 of the 1988 Act provides that the holder of a licence shall not sell or deliver, or permit any person to sell or deliver, intoxicating liquor to a person under the age of 18 years. It also provides that a licensee who contravenes these provisions is guilty of an offence.
Section 40 of the 1988 Act provides that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may by regulations provide for the issue of an age card to those who have already attained 18 years of age and are, therefore, legally entitled to purchase or consume alcohol on a licensed premises. The national voluntary age card scheme which I introduced by way of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988 (Age Card) Regulations, 1999, is designed to assist licensees in complying with the law. Its purpose is to provide evidence of age where a doubt exists. In any proceedings against a licensee for the sale of alcohol to an under-age person, it is a defence to prove that an age card was looked for and was produced. Neither the 1988 Act nor the 1999 regulations precludes the use of other forms of personal identification for proof of age purposes but I would encourage use of the age card wherever possible.
It remains the law that a licensee may refuse admittance or service to a person or require a person to leave a licensed premises. For example, it is an offence to sell intoxicating liquor to a person who is drunk. On the other hand, actions by a licensee that are arbitrary or unreasonable may give rise to objections to renewal of the licence. Also, actions by the licensee that run counter to the provisions of the Equal Status Act, 2000 may be referred to the Director of Equality Investigations.
Dáil Éireann 542 Written Answers. Underage Drinking.