He noted that although the Committee stated that it would be hearing from “stakeholders, academic and experts” during the course of public sessions, only one – the Responsible Retailers of Alcohol in Ireland’s Padraic White – had any link to the sector that he represented, the convenience stores, newsagents and forecourt licensees.
In his letter to the Chairman Vincent Jennings noted that the Committee had received almost 60 submissions and had invited 16 bodies to make presentations at the public sessions.
He stated, “RRAI represents the multiples (Tesco, Dunnes, Lidl, Aldi etc) as well as the franchise holders for SuperValu and Centra (Musgraves) and the Spar/Mace/Londis brands (BWG Foods) in addition to a number of ‘lesser’ brands.
“Given that the Committee spent a considerable amount of time discussing structural separation and the perceived dangers of permitting mixed traders selling alcohol” he continued, “we would believe that the Committee should have extended an invitation to at least one other retailer representative group such as Retail Ireland, RGDATA, Retail Excellence Ireland or CSNA to attend the Session (26th March) that included the VFI, LVA and NOFFLA, all of whom made sustained attacks upon the mixed trading sector.”
He was not accusing either the Chairman or the Committee of bias or prejudice against the mixed retail sector, he stressed, “… but I am somewhat perplexed that 2 Vintners Bodies and the Independent Off Licence sector were invited to present to the Committee, yet no retail representatives were similarly treated.”
The CSNA had provided a submission to the Oirerachtas Committee and had indicated that it was prepared to attend a public session if requested to do so.
In the end some 22 individuals actually submitted presentations to the Committee including one of the winners of the Young Scientist of the Year this year.
“We were encouraged to note the response to your query to BT Scientist of the Year Ian O Sullivan” Vincent Jennings concluded, “that the primary providers of alcohol to the cohort of young people that formed the basis of his (joint) Award-winning project were parents, clubs and pubs and not, as your direct question to him asked, Convenience stores or forecourts.”