42% of alcohol sold ‘close to or below cost’

Some 42% of the alcohol being sold in Ireland is being sold at ‘close to or below cost price” claimed VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben at a joint VFI/NOffLA presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality recently.

In calling for more Government action on cheap alcohol such as the introduction of Minimun Unit Pricing, Padraig Cribbin pointed out that some 60% of Ireland’s alcohol is now sold via the off-trade where five years ago this figure had been the on-trade share.

And multiples are responsible for the majority of the present off-trade in alcohol.

He urged the Government to stop talking about taking action on MUP and “go and do it”.

The Government had also been in favour of the physical separation of alcohol sales from non-alcohol sales and a section of the 2008 Intoxicating Liquor Act has provision for this but remains to be enacted, he said.

Echoing these sentiments, NOffLA’s Chairperson Evelyn Jones highlighted NOffLA’s call for the introduction of the Public Health Alcohol Bill as a matter of urgency, the application of existing laws that impose fines for public drunkenness and the “stringent application” of existing laws on the underage purchase and consumption of alcohol.

NOffLA also seeks an enactment of Section 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, which bans the discounted promotion of alcohol or failing that the introduction of a statutory Code of Practice binding all alcohol retailers to rigid guidelines concerning the advertising, placement and sale of alcohol with an adequate sanction.

“The current code is voluntary, open to interpretation and manipulation, permits the self-service retail of alcohol and contains no sanction,” according to the Association which seeks, “An enactment of Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, which provides for the separation of alcohol products from all other grocery products in mixed trading premises” as well as compulsory ID for all purchasing alcohol and mandatory training for all alcohol retailers.

“The alcohol sector has an important part to play in working with the Government to address public order and anti-social behaviour in communities all across Ireland,” commented Evelyn Jones, “There are broader considerations such as public health, welfare and the economic cost – and as retailers and citizens we support the work of the Justice & Equality Committee.

“We believe that responsible retailing and appropriate access are key issues and we would fully support any measures that promote good practice and reduce the access of underage drinkers to alcohol.

“As experts in the sale of alcohol and local SMEs we’re uniquely placed to advise on the challenges faced and opportunities for real change,” she added, “We’ll continue to work with Government and other relevant stakeholders at local and national level in the future to address the issues of problem consumption and associated anti-social behaviour. The Government however has in its power to enact legislation, Section 9 and 16 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, that would make a real impact to the everyday lives of people all over the country at absolutely no cost to the Exchequer. “We made this point along with a number of other recommendations to the committee today and we look forward to engaging with them again in the future.”

It’s a mandatory requirement for membership of NOffLA that all members are trained under its Responsible Trading Certificate to ensure alcohol is retailed in the safest and most responsible manner.

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