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Breathnach warns local retailers will be impacted if minimum unit pricing of alcohol is introduced

Breathnach warns local retailers will be impacted if minimum unit pricing of alcohol is introduced

Local TD Declan Breathnach debated in the Dáil this week the issue of minimum unit pricing of alcohol which is to be introduced here as part of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2018.

The Fianna Fáil deputy says retailers in Louth and the border region will be “severely impacted” if minimum unit pricing of alcohol is introduced.

In a statement on the matter, Deputy Breathnach said: “I sought clarity from the Minister as to when this part of the Bill is proposed to be enacted. I emphasised, once again, the futility of enacting this part of the Bill in the absence of any similar minimum unit pricing in the North of Ireland.

“When we debated this issue previously in the Dáil, the necessity that this legislation would have to operate simultaneously on the island of Ireland was flagged, otherwise there would be an outflow of shoppers to the North of Ireland, not just to buy alcohol, but to do their weekly shopping as well, thus inflicting problems on the retail industry, including pubs, off-licence trade, or the livelihoods of small shopkeepers who already lose out to the larger supermarket outlets, particularly in Louth and the Border region.

“I support the Taoiseach and the Minister of Health’s stand on minimum unit pricing but only if we have similarity in approach both north and south of the border.

“The Minister acknowledged that Government approval was originally given in 2013 for the introduction of minimum unit pricing of alcohol on the basis that it would be introduced simultaneously in the North of Ireland. As the Executive in the North of Ireland is not currently operating, he intends to return to the Government to seek approval for this measure and will do so shortly.

“I have lived my life on the Border and witnessed the volatility of vast currency fluctuations. Unless there is a reciprocal arrangement on an all-island basis, we will go back to the days of smuggling, illicit trade and losses to both business and Revenue. If the Minister is intent on forging ahead with this, as he appears to be, he will do damage to our economy and our trade,” said Breathnach.

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