Describing the use of alcohol as a “terrible blight on society” the Junior Minister with responsibility for primary care Roisín Shortall told an Oireachtas Committee recently that she was “personally committed” to introducing minimum pricing if the legal advice backed it.
These proposals are likely to form part of a forthcoming report of the Steering Committee responsible for compiling the Strategy and she was “determined” to end the practice of alcohol being sold alongside normal goods. She was “not satisfied” with the current voluntary code from the industry.
In addition, a new message would be sent to gardaí encouraging them to fully enforce the laws on underage drinking as she was not satisfied either that there was adequate enforcement currently.
The North Dublin Deputy declared, “Alcohol is a major problem in this country. As a society we need to face up to it. As a society we drink too much”. She wants the new strategy to target this problem by reducing consumption levels “across the social spectrum, urban and rural and among all age groups”.
Roisin Shortall wants cross-party support to back the new strategy to reduce the "damage alcohol has done to individuals, families and the health of Irish people".
She concluded, “This is not a marginal issue”.
Billy Kelleher could not understand why below-cost selling had been allowed go on for so long. “When tobacco prices were increased the next day we reduced alcohol prices,” he told the Committee and along with Denis Naughten from Fine Gael, he sought a ban on below-cost selling.