í“ Rí­ordí¡in calls for reintroduction of ban on below cost selling of alcohol

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Labour Party Deputy for Dublin North Central, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has called for the reintroduction of the ban on the below cost selling of alcohol as an interim measure to address alcohol misuse, especially among younger people.

Press Release from Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

“While we await publication of the Government’s National Alcohol Plan arising from last year’s National Substance Misuse Strategy Group report, banning below cost selling could be introduced at the stroke of a pen, without the need for new legislation.

“This would avoid the legal wrangles that have accompanied other measures to introduce price controls on alcohol, such as minimum pricing, which has been attempted in other countries, but which could fall foul of European competition law.

“Enjoyed and regulated properly, alcohol is a positive substance that helps people to relax and unwind. However, Irish people are among the highest consumers of alcohol in Europe, and we have a particular issue with teen and underage drinking especially regarding binging.

“There is general consensus that in recent years there has been widespread deep discounting of alcohol by large retailers which has contributed to teenage and problem drinking.

“The Government’s National Alcohol Plan is attempting to address this through the introduction of minimum pricing mechanisms, to set a base price below which alcohol cannot be sold. However, we have seen in other countries, such as Scotland, that this is beset with legal difficulties, and could end up in a lengthy legal process.

“For that reason, the Government should simply re-introduce the ban on the below cost selling of alcohol that was lifted with the abolition of the Groceries Order a number of years ago. This would prevent all retailers from the deep discounting of alcohol, and using it as a loss leader to attract customers into their shops for other household goods.

“The ban on below cost selling does not require new legislation, but rather could be introduced overnight through a statutory instrument.

“As we await publication of the National Alcohol Plan, I will raise this with my colleague, the Minister of State for Health, Alex White TD, as a much needed first step to change our cultural relationship with alcohol.”