Home > Dail Eireann debate. Other questions - Alcohol sales legislation [39078/12].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Other questions - Alcohol sales legislation [39078/12]. (19 Sep 2012)

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11. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his proposals in relation to future arrangements for the display and sale of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets; the current status of his proposals and the date on which they will be published; if he has decided to implement section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 or implement a statutory code of practice under section 17 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39078/12] 

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: The report of the steering group on a national substance misuse strategy, which was published earlier this year, contains a broad range of recommendations that seek to address the negative consequences of alcohol misuse and alcohol-related harm in this country. The Department of Health is currently developing an action plan for submission to the Government in response to the report's recommendations. Future arrangements for the display and sale of alcohol in mixed-trading premises such as supermarkets and convenience stores will be considered by the Government in the context of that action plan.


Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I do not have to tell the Minister of State about the huge impact and cost associated with the misuse of alcohol and its promotion and mis-selling in mixed units. Last July, the Minister of State's colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, told me he would not go ahead with the voluntary code of practice and that he would introduce a mandatory system for multiples and other outlets. Why does the Minister of State not just implement section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, which would entail strict mandatory guidelines?


I met representatives of the National Off-Licence Association some months ago. They made very responsible and good proposals on a new national responsible trading certificate for retailers and they made proposals to end price and quantity promotion of alcohol. Considerable quantities of alcohol are being promoted as loss leaders in multiples. The representatives were prepared to discuss the identification of each unit of alcohol, which practice, as the Minister of State knows, Ministers of State such as Deputies Joe Costello and Róisín Shortall have advocated. Is it not time to utilise existing legislation, as I have mentioned in my question? Should we not move towards a much more responsible process for the sale of alcohol? Small operators, the National Off-Licence Association and others would be happy to implement this if we gave the lead.


Deputy Kathleen Lynch: During the period leading up to the enactment of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, bodies representing the mixed-trading sector proposed the implementation of a code of practice as an alternative to section 9 of the Act, which makes statutory provision for structural separation. The then Minister agreed to postpone the implementation of the statutory provision in favour of an agreed code of practice, subject to compliance with stated conditions. In particular, it was made clear that deferring the implementation of the statutory provision was conditional on independent verification of compliance with the code and that the code was achieving the objective of structural separation.


The Deputy will know that clearly has not worked. It was not enforced in any way. The current difficulty, which is not insurmountable, is that there are now two very clear departmental perspectives. As the Deputy will know, Minister of State Deputy Róisín Shortall has a very clear view and pathway in regard to how we should deal with the alcohol issue. I admit that I agree with this entirely, as do many. The Department of Justice and Equality has an opinion on the issue also, although it is not so much a separate one. It is a question of bringing the two perspectives together. There may be a way of doing something in the shorter term through the implementation of section 9. I will relate this to the Minister because it may represent a way of putting a short-term solution in place. If we needed any convincing, the events of the past few months should tell us that we need to do something about the sale of alcohol and consider who it is sold to and its effects.


Dail Eireann Debate

Vol. 773 No. 2

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


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