Minister launches review of voluntary Code for sale & display of alcohol

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Mr Alan Shatter TD, has launched a review of the voluntary Code of Practice for the display and sale of alcohol in supermarkets, convenience stores and similar mixed trading outlets.

The voluntary Code was introduced in 2008 as an alternative to the statutory rules for structural separation of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets which are set out in section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008. A separate body – Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland (RRAI) – was established and funded by the mixed trading sector to oversee implementation of the Code and its Chairperson, Padraic White, has recently submitted his Compliance Report for 2011. In the meantime, the statutory rules have not been brought into operation.

The Compliance Report for 2011 indicates an overall compliance level of 85 per cent n across the mixed trading sector based on an independent audit by FMI Ltd.  Supermarkets scored a rating of 96 per cent compared with an average score of 79 per cent for convenience stores.  

The Minister said he was grateful to Padraic White and RRAI for the timely submission of the third Compliance Report. He continued, “Following 3 years’ experience of the voluntary Code, the time has come for a comprehensive review of whether the voluntary approach to structural separation is proving effective in practice. While progress has been made in separating alcohol products from other food and drink products in many outlets, the reality is that the large quantities of alcohol on display in some supermarkets and convenience stores and the prominence given to alcohol products remains a cause for concern. I have therefore decided to publish RRAI’s Compliance Report for 2011 on my Department’s website and to invite interested bodies and individuals to submit their views on the subject”.

Interested bodies and individuals may submit comments on the Compliance Report for 2011 or, more generally, on the effectiveness of the voluntary approach to structural separation by 20th December 2011.

The Minister concluded by saying that he intended also to seek the views of the Minister for Health and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality before reaching any decision on whether to bring the statutory rules in the 2008 Act into operation.

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