Justice Minister to remove RRAI Voluntary Code in off-sales

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter TD seems likely to abolish the current Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland (RRAI) Voluntary Code in relation to alcohol sales in favour of either introducing structural separation by law or introducing a Statutory Code of Practice, breach of which would render the licensee open to objections at the next licensing session in the District Court.

This statutory Code of Practice would be introduced under Section 17 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 2011, which the Government enacted last Summer.

The Minister was discussing his take on the Liquor Licensing Laws in response to a Dail question from Galway West Fianna Fail TD Éamon Ó Cuív recently.

In providing additional information not given on the floor of the Dail chamber, the Minister stated, “I am not in favour of retaining the current RRAI voluntary Code. The choice therefore lies between Section 9 of the 2008 Act or a statutory Code under Section 17 of the 2011 Act. I expect to be in a position to seek Government approval for proposals regarding future arrangements in the coming weeks.

In relation to the possibility of introducing structural changes, it was also suggested to the Minister by Mayo Fianna Fail TD Dara Calleary that  consideration might be given to the Section 9 segregation issue according to the size of retail premises as “certain companies can afford the changes required under the section and these companies are probably the cause of problems in this area”.

In not being in favour of retaining the current Voluntary Code the Minister stated, “We need to do better than that. The choice therefore lies between section 9 or some variant of it”.

He added, “I expect to be in a position to seek Government approval for proposals regarding future arrangements in the coming weeks. They are the subject of internal discussions as to how best to proceed.

“We must bring to an end some of the commercial inducements in place that encourage people to purchase and perhaps drink more alcohol than is wise. For example, there are offers to pay for six cans of beer and get another six for free and other inducements.

“On the other side of the coin, I am also aware that in what is currently a difficult business environment for SMEs, some mixed stores are dependent on alcohol sales and other sales to maintain a reasonable livelihood. Alcohol is purchased as a normal item by many individuals in the community.

“Many of those stores would not have the financial capacity to restructure in a manner that Section 9 envisages. If they had to obtain loans for such restructuring, it would put them under some difficulty. There are balances we need to maintain and we are giving consideration to that in the current deliberations.”



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