Implementing Minimum Unit Pricing – the best present Leo could give us all this Christmas

Implementing Minimum Unit Pricing – the best present Leo could give us all this Christmas


Alcohol Action Ireland today (Thursday 12 December) called on An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to deliver on the legislation passed over 400 days ago. By implementing the Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol products the Taoiseach and the Minister of Health, Simon Harris would go some way to ensuring that some families will have their love ones this time next Christmas.

In Ireland, over 7 people, according to the Global Disease Burden data 2016, are dying from alcohol related illness. Acute alcohol misuse, alcohol related emergency department and cirrhosis diagnosis admissions are the leading impacts of mass availability of cheap, strong alcohol in our communities.

The recent data from the Health Research Board highlights yet again the extraordinary levels of harm with alcohol responsible for over one third of all poisoning deaths (125 deaths: two a week).

Research data emerging from both Scotland and the Northern Territory in Australia demonstrate the capacity of this one measure to really make a significant impact on these continuing terrible outcomes from Ireland’s corrosive relationship with alcohol. Early findings from Scotland indicate a 7.6% reduction in retail alcohol sales while the Northern Territory’s Alice Springs hospital has witnessed a 54% reduction in acute alcohol misuse admissions.

Commenting on the stalled implementation of the enacted legislation, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications & Advocacy, Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

We cannot understand why government will not proceed with this crucial and proven step to reduce alcohol misuse. The current marketplace is demonstrating careless and reckless behaviour by the alcohol industry and its retail partners with spirits being discounted in some cases at 50% beneath a minimum unit price and 35% discounting of beer. 

Three times since early summer there has been indications that the pricing measure would commence and yet we still have nothing. One can only conclude that at the heart of Government there lies an ideological blockage to progress. 

By next Christmas further lives will have been unnecessarily lost; more communities disrupted by alcohol related harms and homes where children’s young lives will have been impacted by the excessive drinking of others.