The Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion and Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland (2012) aimed at bringing an end to irresponsible drinks promotions which encourage the excessive consumption of alcohol, came into full force at the weekend after a three-month adjustment period following the official launch in May. The Code has the backing of all sectors of the drinks industry as well as Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland, who stated at the launch of the Code, “I have been concerned for some time about the way in which alcohol is promoted and marketed, in particular promotions involving very cheap alcohol and its availability to young people”.
He added that he had also been encouraged by the attitude of some of the bodies representing the drinks industry who have been working to develop this Joint Industry Code.
“I very much welcome the opportunity to work with the drinks industry to end irresponsible drinks promotions which encourage excessive consumption of alcohol,” he stated.
An independent complaints panel Chaired by former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland will oversee the implementation and enforcement of the Code and the panel comprises a number of independent professionals with extensive knowledge and experience in the alcohol, health, education and enforcement sectors.
The body is responsible for the enforcement of the Code through handling complaints and carrying out investigations into any licensee deemed to be in breach of the terms of the agreement. The panel will make its findings publically available and a statement will be issued to the press if it finds against a licensee.
Duncan McCausland, said, “Following the launch in May, we have been working to familiarise the industry with the Code and the possible consequences if it is breached. Now that the adjustment period is over, the independent complaints panel will move forward with its full implementation across Northern Ireland.
“I have been very encouraged with the positive approach taken by the industry and its willingness to work with other key stakeholders and the larger community and hope that the roll out of the Code will confine irresponsible drinks promotions to the past.”
It is hoped that compliance with the Code – a self-regulatory measure introduced by the industry outlining the basic standards expected of those involved in the production, promotion, retail and service of alcohol in Northern Ireland – will eventually become a condition of the granting or renewal of both liquor and entertainment licenses across Northern Ireland.
The code has the full support of the representative bodies for the industry who called on all licensees to make themselves familiar with the Code before it went live this month.
Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill commented, “Pubs of Ulster has been engaged in a series of workshops across Northern Ireland since the Code was launched in May, each designed to brief the industry on the Code and the potential consequences of any breach. We believe irresponsible drinks promotions have no place in our industry and will provide members with ongoing support and advice to ensure they do not accidently breach the code”.
A copy of The Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion and Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland can be found at www.responsibleretailingcodeni.org.