‘Childrens’ Allowance’ drink deal slated

BRIAN O’CONNELL in The Irish Times

A Centra outlet in Dublin, which last year won National Convenience Store of the Year, has been criticised for including alcohol as part of a ‘Children’s Allowance Day’ deals promotion.

Courtney’s Centra in Fairview and East Wall produced flyers entitled ’Children’s Allowance Day Deals’ and featuring a variety of products on offer including cheese, biscuits and pizza. Two alcohol products were also included in the offer.

A case of Miller beer was promoted for €15, or 75 cents a bottle, while two cases of Budweiser beer were on offer for €25.

Fairview local Ciaran McCausland noticed the flyer included in his weekly shopping, and took issue with the promotion. “I was shocked. Regardless of how people choose to spend their child benefit, Centra is one of the largest brands in the country and for them to cynically put in a flyer that payment for children should be spent on beer, I find it was very cynical and wrong,” he said.

Mr McCausland called on the Centra store to make an apology and commit to responsible advertising in future. “I think this is extremely bad taste and I believe they should make an apology or admit it was inappropriate because Child Benefit is a state payment for the benefit for children. To suggest it should be spent on alcohol is appalling.”

The promotion also drew criticism from Fiona Ryan, chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland. “Considering one in 11 children in Ireland are living with a parent with problematic alcohol use, and that children’s lives are negatively impacted, then any link between parenting and buying cut price alcohol is totally irresponsible,” she said. “It doesn’t serve the retailer or the family well.”

Ms Ryan drew attention to the fact that Government is currently examining legislation separating the sale of alcohol and food. She said promotions like this underline the need for tighter regulation. “If we continue to sell alcohol like a grocery in supermarkets and not treat it as a licensed product, then in one way I’m not surprised a retailer would put alcohol in with groceries.”

Meath East TD Regina Doherty, who is a member of the Joint Committee on Health and Children, also expressed concerns at the promotion.

“This is a blatant abuse of the standards and codes that the we are using for responsible promotion of alcohol. Child benefit payments are for children and to blatantly advertise alcohol like this contravenes moral standards not alone advertising ones. I think this is a prime example of how self-regulation of the industry is absolutely not working.”

Lil Courtney, owner of Courtney’s Centra in Fairview said: “I’m not in a position to speak at present. The Musgrave group will be making a statement on the matter.”