Garda probe after TV crew films underage drink sales

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Gardaí are expected to carry out an investigation into four off-licences and two supermarket chains after a television programme captured them delivering alcohol to underage drinkers at their homes.

Last Thursday’s Prime Time on RTÉ showed that none of the businesses – all located in Swords, north Dublin – asked for identification from the purchasers at delivery.

The people working for the off-licences took cash on delivery, while the supermarkets, Tesco and Superquinn, took payment via debit card online at point of ordering.

Under Section 31 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988, it is an offence for a licence holder to sell or deliver, or permit any other person to sell or deliver, intoxicating liquor for consumption by a person under the age of 18 in any place except with the explicit consent of the person’s parents or guardians in a private residence.

The two supermarkets admitted to Prime Time that the programme had captured them delivering alcohol to people underage and said they were taking the matter very seriously.

One off-licence, Coolers, admitted that it did not ask for proof of age, as per shop policy, and the delivery person had been suspended pending an internal investigation.

A second off-licence, Peacocks, said it was an “isolated” incident, which was under internal investigation and that they had terminated their delivery service.

Two other off-licences, the Lord Mayors and Next Door, did not comment.

Garda sources said officers in Swords would be carrying out an investigation on foot of the issues highlighted in Prime Time.

One source pointed out that while the two supermarkets gave “fairly decent replies”, they had also made admissions regarding their actions.

The Department of Justice last week said the forthcoming Sale of Alcohol Bill would make it an offence for a third party, for example a taxi driver or courier, to deliver alcohol and accept payment.

Source: Irish Examiner, 23/08/10
Cormac O’Keeffe