Off-licences warned on home sales

  • Post category:News

Off-licences across the country have been warned more than once that accepting cash payments for delivering alcohol to the homes of customers was an illegal practice, the industry’s representative body said today.

Jim McCabe, of The National Off-Licence Association, said the body sought legal advice on the matter when delivery services first came to their attention in 2006 and was told the practice was illegal as the sale took place outside the licenced premises.

He said this information was passed on to the 420 members of the organisation and added the message was reiterated in 2008 when a Government Alcohol Advisory Group reported that “services which involve payment on delivery of alcohol products are illegal and the offending licensed premises should be prosecuted”.

The Department of Justice said area was complex, with legal and enforcement issues but said the practice was illegal. It said it was extremely difficult for An Garda Síochána to detect the offence as it took place at the door of a private property.

The comments followed an RTÉ Primetime investigation which found off-licences in north Dublin were delivering alcohol to underage punters and not seeking identification. Tesco and Superquinn were found to be engaging in the practice through their online services but the youths paid with a debit card prior to delivery.

Mr McCabe said the investigation highlighted a “very serious situation” and called for mandatory ID cards to be introduced to prevent such problems.

“We have strict training guidelines on the sale of alcohol and we don’t believe people should receive it at their homes,” he said. “In a shop you have control but once you go outside that you’re asking for trouble.”

He said the legality of credit card sales which were later delivered remained a “grey area”.

The department said: “The purchase of alcohol is legitimate as long as payment is made when the product is purchased. Many supermarkets provide such a service and some off-licences also provide a delivery service and advertise dial-and-delivery services”.
Fine Gael spokesman on children Charlie Flanagan called on Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to clarify issues around alcohol delivery in the Sale of Alcohol Bill, which is expected to be published later this year.

Mr Flanagan said alcohol consumption was at the heart of the current disturbing level and nature of underage crime and cited the Garda Youth Diversion Programme Report for 2009 which noted 3,079 cases of public drunkenness and 1,144 instances involving the illegal purchase, possession or consumption of alcohol by people aged under 18.

There were 32 cases of possession of a firearm and 378 cases for possession of other offensive weapons, including knives and a total of 74 sexual offences committed by under-18s.

“The link between alcohol and crime is clear. Every accident and emergency will testify to the relationship between injury and drinking. Every Garda would testify to the link between alcohol and public order offences,” he said.


Source:, 20/08/10
Journalist: Steven Carroll