Alcohol Action says plan will end ‘pocket money’ prices

Alcohol Action Ireland  has welcomed Government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol to correct what it describes as a lengthy period of selling drinks at “pocket money prices”.

From The Irish Times

The group says the policy as outlined will target the important areas of misuse and will not harm pubs, clubs or restaurants.

The agreement included a year’s delay in any decision on whether or not the industry could continue its sponsorship of major sporting events, a postponement welcomed by the  Irish Rugby Football Union.

On the retail side,  Suzanne Costello, AAI chief executive, said: “These drinks have been sold at pocket money prices in this country, particularly in supermarkets, for far too long now.

“Minimum pricing is able to target cheaper alcohol relative to its strength because the price is determined by and directly proportionate to the amount of alcohol in the drink.

“It is for this reason that it will also not affect the price of drinks in pubs, clubs and restaurants, and will have little or no effect on low-risk drinkers.”

Retail  Ireland, the representative body that includes many of the leading supermarkets, said that it was open to change so long as it was done in conjunction with  Northern Ireland  and so did not drive consumers across the Border. It pointed in particular to 2008 when substantial numbers of shoppers travelled to Newry and other areas to stock up.

The Government has already indicated it will consult authorities in the North to safeguard against any such disparity.

“Retail Ireland has an open mind about price. We are awaiting, and have always awaited, the position of the Government on the matter,” said a spokesman. “Our view generally is that where you purchase your alcohol is not the driver of misuse. In countries where they have a very healthy relationship with alcohol the vast majority of drinking is done in the home and people buy it in an off-licence.”

Awaiting details

Kathryn D’Arcy of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland said the organisation would await details of the legislation before taking a position.

In the sporting arena, the IRFU was positive about the delay. “We welcome the decision and hope to be part of any proposed working group in relation to this important issue for Irish sport,” said a spokesman.

The make-up of the working group to be appointed on the subject of sponsorship is, however, unclear.

A spokesman for the GAA said their policy of retaining such deals was unchanged. “The Government are aware of our position on this so we will wait and see how things pan out,” he said.

The  Football Association of Ireland  did not respond to requests for comment.

Neither  Diageo, the owners of Guinness which sponsors the GAA, nor  Heineken  which backs European cup rugby, could be reached for comment last night.