Delays to the introduction of MUP had been attributed to a wish to co-ordinate its introduction with similar legislation in NI in order to eliminate the possibility of cross-border bulk purchasing.
The move comes following talks between Frank Feighan (who has responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy as well as alcohol policy) and NI’s Health Minister Robert Swann in which it emerged that NI would not be introducing MUP before the NI elections in May 2022.
It may therefore be the end of 2022 before NI were to introduce the legislation there.
“The idea was it would happen simultaneously in both jurisdictions,” Frank Feighan stated recently, “We were waiting for the North and then Covid-19 came in.
“I had a meeting with the North’s Minister for Health Robert Swann three weeks ago. He told me Northern Ireland would not be bringing it in before the northern elections in May 2022.
“Essentially my advice from officials and my own view is that we have no choice but try to introduce it here.”
He said the fact that alcohol would be cheaper in NI could see RoI consumers travel there to buy it but he believed that the positives of introducing MUP here now “far outweigh the negatives”.
The matter will have to get Cabinet approval but the government has been criticised frequently for the delay in implementing MUP since the legislation for this was passed back in 2018.