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DoH to spend at least €40,000 on alcohol policy ‘gala dinner’

The Department of Health is to spend at least €40,000 on venue and catering services for the Global Alcohol Policy Conference Gala Dinner in 2020, the Medical Independent (MI) has learned.

The Department will host the Global Alcohol Policy Conference in Dublin Castle from 9-11 March 2020, with 350-500 delegates scheduled to attend. A Department spokesperson told MI it is intended that registration fees will cover the cost of the conference.

A gala dinner with up to 500 guests will take place in Dublin during the event.  The Department is currently seeking a caterer and venue for the dinner.

The conference is held every two years and the 2020 event is themed ‘Alcohol Equity and Global Health: The Benefit of Alcohol Control for Sustainable Development for All’.

The gathering will draw together policy-makers, researchers and advocates, civil society representatives and practitioners to share knowledge on alcohol issues.

The Global Alcohol Policy Alliance is a network of not-for-profit organisations and people working in public health agencies that share information on alcohol issues and advocate evidence-based alcohol policies, free from commercial interests.

Its mission is to “reduce alcohol-related harm worldwide by promoting science-based policies independent of commercial interests”.

In March, Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed the announcement that Ireland was selected to host the conference.

“We know that we have a relationship with alcohol in this country that is not good, damages our health, harms our communities and harms many families. While we have made significant advances in this regard, we have a lot more we can do and this conference can help us continue to make advances in this area.”

A Department spokesperson told MI: “As part of the conference, a conference dinner will be held, which will provide delegates with a further opportunity to exchange on-the-ground experience and knowledge.

“Alcohol will not be served at the event. The budget for the event is dependant on the number of delegates who register to attend. A draft budget has been developed by the Department and it is intended that the registration fees will cover the cost of the conference.”

Last year, the Oireachtas passed legislation which seeks to frame alcohol as a public health priority.

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