There has been a broad welcome for legislative proposals announced today to tackle alcohol abuse.

Under the proposals to be included in a draft bill, off-licences would have to close by 10pm each night and gardaí would be allowed to seize alcohol if they suspected someone may breach public order.

Gardaí would also be allowed to test pubs and other outlets by sending in underage people to try to buy drink, in order to expose breaches of the law.

The bill would also make it a statutory requirement for late-opening pubs and nightclubs to have CCTV systems in place.

Where alcohol is on display in supermarkets and convenience stores it would have to be in a structurally separate area and if that was not possible it would have to be sold from behind a counter.

The Minister for Justice said new legislation restricting the availability of alcohol at off-licences and giving increased powers to gardaí would be a significant step in addressing the culture of alcohol abuse.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's News at One, Brian Lenihan said there was far too much alcohol being consumed in public places and he wanted gardaí to be able to seize alcohol and impose on the spot fines.

He was speaking after he outlined the proposals for the Intoxicating Liquor/Public Order Bill, which is being drafted following recommendations from the Alcohol Advisory Group.

Further measures may be needed - psychiatrist

The Labour party says the measures make a good deal of sense and are well thought out.

Justice Spokesman Pat Rabbitte said we have difficult decisions to make when it comes to what he called our latent toleration of alcohol abuse and that if the bill would address this, that was something to be welcomed.

Chairman of the Alcohol Advisory Group Gordon Holmes was pleased his recommendations were accepted but disappointed there was still no overall Government policy across all departments.

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland said it was committed to playing its part in tackling alcohol misuse and would study the proposals.

The National Youth Council said it hoped the proposals marked the beginning of a shift away from ignoring alcohol related harm and starting to do something about it.

The NYC also called on Brian Cowen's successor as Minister for Finance to increase taxation on alcoholic drink.

The organisation says there is a clear link between the availability of drink and the problems it causes in Irish society.

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Larkin Feeney welcomed the bill but said that perhaps it did not go far enough.

He told a joint Oireachtas committee there were proven international measures for dealing with alcohol abuse and if Ireland accepted it had a serious problem then it needed to address it seriously.

In other reaction to the proposals, Youth Work Ireland said the draft bill signalled that the message on alcohol was finally getting through to policy makers.

It says some measures fall well short of the comprehensive approach outlined in the Government's own Strategic Task Force on Alcohol report but says it is pleased to see something substantial happening at long last.

Broad welcome from off-licences

The National Off-Licence Association says the new proposals on the sale and supply of alcohol are part of the overall drive towards changing attitudes to drink in Irish society.

The association says any effort to improve the situation regarding misuse of alcohol is to be welcomed.

Spokesman Cathal McHugh said some of the proposals were a little blunt but in general, they were progressive.

On proposed reductions to off-licence opening hours, Mr McHugh said that would not be an issue for his members, once it was applied evenly across the board.

He said the move may lead to consumers changing their behaviour, when they will have to ensure they purchase alcohol before 10pm.

Mr McHugh said NOffLA acknowledged that there was a problem with alcohol in Irish society and said root and branch change was needed.

He said some prompting by the Government may assist but the general attitude to alcohol needed to change, in order to progress the situation.