Government plans on Minimum Unit Pricing are an “act of national folly” claims RGDATA
An all-island solution is needed to address cheap alcohol says Tara Buckley. Minister Feighan must explain measures to address cross border cheap booze, she says.
RGDATA, which represents the independent retail grocery sector has strongly criticised government plans to unilaterally introduce Minimum Unit Pricing on alcohol sales. The organisation said that the Government’s proposals to introduce the measure unilaterally, without any equivalent proposals in Northern Ireland, are an act of national folly and will merely drive the market for cheap alcohol across the border to Northern Ireland.
Tara Buckley the RGDATA Director General said that her members had been consistently critical of large international retailers who continued to use alcohol as a loss leader to attract custom.
“Since the ban on the below cost sale of alcohol was repealed by then Enterprise Minister Micheal Martin, some of the largest retailers in the market have effectively been let rip with cheap alcohol sales. It has been highly irresponsible and RGDATA has called for measures to prevent the below cost sale of alcohol. Now a government led by Micheal Martin is proposing to introduce a measure which will only drive the market for cheap alcohol across the border into Northern Ireland and right into the stores of some retailers who have created the problem here.”
Hard pressed border counties
RGDATA said that the problem with the Government proposal is that it will lead to significant trade diversions from local retailers, particularly in hard pressed border counties. These shoppers will not only buy cheaper alcohol – they will use their trips to do their full shop.
RGDATA called on the Minister with responsibility for Public Health, Frank Feighan TD to outline what anti evasion measures the Government are proposing to prevent the market for cheap alcohol merely transferring across the border.
“Minister of State Frank Feighan has called RGDATA to a briefing on Friday afternoon to outline the Government’s plans on Minimum Unit Pricing. He also needs to outline how the Government proposes to address the migration of the market for cheap alcohol across the border and the steps that he will be taking to prevent the decimation of retailers in border counties.”
“If the Government is intent on doing a solo run on Minimum Unit Pricing rather than an all island solution, Minister Feighan needs to clearly spell out how he will address the cross border sale of cheap alcohol. Otherwise he needs to hold off on the proposals until an all Island solution can be agreed.”