North Down Alliance Assembly Member Eileen Bell has warned that the warnings of Professor Roger Williams, doctor to the late George Best, must be heeded on the issue of liquor licensing.
Responding to warnings that alcohol could become more easily available in Northern Ireland, Mrs Bell stated: “I have held a number of meetings with groups across all sectors – including health, voluntary and publicans – to stress my party’s view that public safety must come first.
“Society is slowly beginning to wake up to the fact that alcoholism is not something you just ‘get over’. We have a duty to ensure that laws are not changed in a way which encourages alcoholism. On the contrary, we must give much greater consideration to ways of limiting alcoholism, while not restricting people’s right to enjoy a drink if they wish.
“We are concerned that liberalization of liquor licensing will not just hinder our work tackling alcoholism, but also lead to a series of identical town centres where big business pub chains win out at the expense of small businesses whose owners are more likely to reinvest in the local community.
“Even for a Liberal party, there are times when public safety and the overall good of the community must come first.”