Second stage passed, which is great to see. Support was unanimous.
The Government sounded a couple of warning notes to be dealt with in committee. One is the common sense assumption that every production brewery will be a visitor attraction and therefore must be compliant on health and safety etc. So getting a manufacturer's licence will require sign-off by a local court. The court can also revoke the licence if it's being abused, which would shut down the brewery completely, not simply ban visitors, which makes sense.
The more awkward bit is that the Government wants every visitor to do a tour before they can buy anything. It looks like they don't want people popping to the local brewery for a growler fill. The brewers and bill sponsors will need to have their arguments ready on that one.
Anyway: congrats to everyone who got things this far.
Dáil Committee stage was completed yesterday. The government has effectively re-written the Bill to include the issues mentioned above. The amendments list is here[/url:tkya36r8] and amendment 1 is pretty much the entire Bill as it currently stands.
Rather than allowing a manufacturer to sell their products, it now creates two new kinds of licence: a producer's retail on or off licence, and a producer's retail off licence only. The former requires a certificate from the Circuit Court, the latter from the District. With the court certificate obtained, the brewery can apply to Revenue for the licence which costs €500 a year, with presumably legal and court fees on top of that.
The big thing here as I see it is the opportunity for locals *cough*pubs*cough* to object to proposed taprooms, and even to proposed breweries in the first place. Anyone setting up a new brewery will really need to have the local drinks trade on side, and do a better job of it than Diageo and Heineken do.
The government is also reserving the right to hold off putting the Act into force after it's passed to allow Revenue to update their systems for dealing with the new licences.
The provision for the tour remains, and it's claimed that this is what the brewers want. All the government seems to know is that buying beer at the brewery has to be part of an overall touristic experience. Charlie Flanagan has admitted that a definition of what this will actually mean in practice will have to be hammered out before the Bill is enacted, and preferably at Report stage which is next.
After that it's over to the Seanad, at some date as yet unspecified.