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Malone warns Government they risk creating ‘mayhem’ if minimum unit alcohol pricing is introduced

Malone warns Government they risk creating ‘mayhem’ if minimum unit alcohol pricing is introduced

A local businessman has warned the Government they will create “mayhem” if they introduce minimum pricing for alcohol here without having the North on board.

The Government had planned to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol here alongside their colleagues in Northern Ireland but the political situation in the North means this has stalled.

Health Minister Simon Harris plans to push ahead in the coming weeks but this could have huge ramifications for businesses in border areas such as Dundalk, who could see customers flock north for cheaper booze.

According to a report by the Alcohol Beverage Association of Ireland, there will be a 38% price differential if minimum unit pricing (MUP) is brought in on just one side of the Border.

While price hikes will be targeted at the cheapest alcohol, they predict a “laddering” effect that will see prices on “premium” products also rise

Dundalk Chamber of Commerce CEO Paddy Malone told The Irish Independent today that he believes the Government risks creating ‘mayhem’ if they proceed with minimum unit pricing without the North and predicted “illegal organisations” would begin smuggling “cheap booze” into the Republic.

“I don’t want a network that hasn’t gone away involved in this. It’s bad enough with cigarettes,” he said.

Mr Malone also dismissed suggestions that only the cheapest alcohol will be affected, saying once shoppers go from Dundalk to Newry they will fill their basket with groceries.

Under the new laws, a 750ml bottle of white wine costing €5.99 will increase by €1.11, while 700ml of Tesco vodka currently costing €12.99 will see an increase of €7.72, making it €20.71. A bottle of Tesco gin costing €15.99 will rise by €4.72, to €20.71, while a can of Dutch Gold beer costing €1.13 will increase by 45c.

Minimum unit pricing will mean each drink sold in a shop is measured by the grammes of alcohol it contains. Major retailers will be forced to ensure any drink they sell is priced at no less than 10c per gramme of alcohol. This means supermarket chains and off-licences will be banned from selling cans of beer for less than €1 or average bottles of wine for less than €7.50. The new rules will also see supermarkets cut back on special offers for bulk-buying beer and wine.