Agreement to restore Northern Ireland Executive provides new opportunity for the implementation of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol products.
- A new Strategic Plan on Alcohol features within ‘Priorities of the Restored Executive’ for Northern Ireland
Alcohol Action Ireland welcome the publication overnight of the two governments ‘New Decade, New Approach’ – a draft agreement which they state ‘represents a fair and balanced basis’ upon which to restore the institutions within Northern Ireland.
Crucially, Part One of the ‘Priorities of the Restored Executive’ highlights that ‘The Executive will publish a successor strategy and action plan to the Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs Phase 2 within 3 months.
This commitment affords a new administration an opportunity to advance on minimum unit pricing for alcohol products, and to simultaneously act on such a measure, as proposed in Ireland.
To date, the Irish government has indicated that the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol products, passed within the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018, would be delayed until an Executive was restored in Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the ongoing developments, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications, Alcohol Action Ireland, said:
Early indications suggest that an Executive could well be established in the coming days, which would be a great start to a new decade for everyone on this island.
The commitment within the ‘Priorities of the Restored Executive’ that a new Alcohol Strategy will be produced within three months is hugely encouraging.
This can provide the mechanism for both Governments to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol products, simultaneously, and finally begin a process whereby the mass availability of cheap, strong alcohol in the Off-Trade, so prevalent throughout our shared communities, will be removed from the marketplace.
With a Minimum Unit Pricing regime potentially being established in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland (operational since May 2018) and Wales in 2020, we can see a transformed landscape emerging across these islands where the controlled price of alcohol will reduce alcohol consumption and lessen the related harms.