So believes Drinks Ireland, whose Director Patricia Callan reiterated that the industry is in favour of tackling the sale of cheap alcohol to reduce alcohol misuse.
But she added, “While we acknowledge the delays in Northern Ireland in introducing this measure, our position is that MUP should be introduced in conjunction with the North.
“Otherwise it would drive many price-sensitive households who’ve already been hard-hit by the pandemic, to shop across the border. It would also place massive pressures on border businesses and lead to an increase in illicit alcohol smuggling at the border, all at a vulnerable time for our economy”.
An economic report from Ibec showed that a unilateral MUP move by the RoI government would increase the existing price differential on alcohol between RoI and NI from 27% to 38%. Additionally, it’s estimated that it would result in a €94 million loss to the Irish Exchequer in increased sales across the border.
Beyond alignment with Northern Ireland, the introduction of MUP is logistically very challenging for retailers and drinks manufacturers, so it’s important that a transition period of at least one year is provided to implement the measure, in line with other measures in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018, she added.
“In the context of this debate” states Drinks Ireland, “it’s also important to highlight that alcohol consumption in Ireland declined last year by 6.6% to its lowest level in 30 years. This fall, while accelerated by Covid-19 and the closure of the hospitality sector, is also in line with the fact that alcohol consumption generally is declining in Ireland. The average consumption in 2020 was 29.8% lower than the peak of 2001.”