Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 705 - Retail sector [35145/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 705 - Retail sector [35145/16]. (15 Nov 2016)

705. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O'Connor her views on the likely cost associated with changes specifically for small retailers with regard to proposals in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015; if she engaged with small retailers on this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35145/16]


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): As chair of the Retail Consultation Forum, I am very aware of the specific issues faced by the retail sector. The Forum provides a platform for my Department to engage directly with the concerns of retailers and its work programme is focused on maintaining the competitiveness of the sector. In so doing, we ensure that retail businesses are supported in identifying challenges that may impact on future competitiveness.


 Currently, the Forum’s work programme has four key areas of focus: reducing energy costs, maximising opportunities in the digital economy, identifying skills needs for the sector, and the revitalisation of town centres. These working groups are focused on maximising the benefit of concrete initiatives and funding streams, such as the fund of €10 million made available by the Government this year for the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. Effective use of funds such as this will be of particular support to small and medium retailers.


 In recent weeks, several members of the Forum have voiced concerns to me and publicly about the cost and compliance implications of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015. Notwithstanding these concerns, it is important to note that these organisations are very supportive of the overall aims of the Bill, given the justified public health concerns around harmful drinking patterns in Ireland, and they take the issue of alcohol retailing very seriously. Many of their members are also members of RRAI (Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland), an organisation which has also raised this issue with me recently.


 My officials are engaging with the Department of Health to highlight the concerns voiced by retailers, while also supporting the central objective of the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which is to reduce the level of harmful alcohol consumption in Ireland. The Retail Consultation Forum, which is meeting later this month, provides an additional platform for consultation on the matter.

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