Irish Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative welcomes Minister Shorthall’s proposal to introduce a minimum cost for alcohol
Irish Bishops’ Drugs and Alcohol Initiative today welcomed the proposal to introduce a minimum cost for alcohol retail outlets. In addition to the human suffering faced by families across Ireland, it is estimated that alcohol abuse costs the State €3.7 billion each year through illness, absenteeism and crime.
IBDI vice-chair Bishop Éamonn Walsh said: “Alcohol is no ordinary consumer commodity and should always be used responsibly and in moderation. I welcome today’s announcement by Minister Roisin Shorthall, who holds governmental responsibility for primary care and substance abuse, that we can expect legislation which will determine a minimum price for alcohol.
“Alcohol is used by multiple-retailers as a ‘loss-leader’ which means that alcohol is both available relatively cheaply and is placed in prominent areas within supermarkets. The reluctance of government to increase the cost of alcohol in recent budgets has also contributed to the relative cheap cost of alcohol over the last decade in the State.
“Minister Shorthall is correct that price control of alcohol is but one of a number factors which needs to be addressed in order to arrest the increasing level of alcohol misuse in our society. Cultural factors and the prevalence of alcohol advertising in the Irish context also need to be looked at closely. The IBDI believes that:
• Alcohol should not be permitted as a sponsor of sporting events or sporting organisations;
• Online, television and radio alcohol advertising relating to sport and youth events should not be permitted;
• Public policy should be coordinated at an all-Ireland level in order to avoid price differentials for alcohol at retail level and to ensure consistent drink-driving limits and penalties across the island.
Bishop Walsh concluded: “Fundamentally alcohol misuse is a public health concern which needs a remedy such as a unique New Year’s resolution between government, multiple-retailer, the drinks industry and the consumer to radically improve – once and for all – the Irish relationship with alcohol. Such a cross-sectional dialogue should be our starting point for 2012.”
Notes for Editors
• The Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative was established in 1997 as a Church response to the growing problem of drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland. The IBDI chairperson is Ms Patricia Conway. Over 250 parishes throughout the country – North and South – are involved in this pastoral initiative.
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444