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Minimum Alcohol Pricing In Ireland Moves Closer After Scottish Ruling

By Publications Checkout

Minimum alcohol pricing in Ireland has moveed a step closer after a Scottish court ruled against a challenge by the Scotch Whiskey Association, which argued that minimum unit pricing breached European law.

The policy had faced legal challenges in Scotland since 2012, however with its implementation it will greatly diminish the legal threat to a similar Irish legislation, which is to be discussed in the Seanad next week, that has also faced delays.

Ireland's drink industry has called on the government to "reflect carefully" on introducing a minimum unit pricing, with the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) commenting that ministers should be "mindful of the Border", reports the Irish Times.

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ABFI director Ross Mac Mathuna said: "With the decline in the value of sterling post the Brexit vote, cross border shopping is on the increase and raising the price of alcohol in the Republic on a unilateral basis would further exacerbate this while doing little to address harm."

However, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland say that introducing such a legislation could potentially save 200 lives a year after 20 years. It also had the support of the National Off-Licence Association who want the government to push ahead with the legislation as well as Alcohol Action Ireland who welcomed the Scottish ruling.

The Scotch Whiskey Association argued that other policies, such as an increase in tax, should be considered instead of minimum unit pricing, however the Scottish court argued that such a measure would be less effective than minimum pricing.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has also stated that it welcomes the decision by Scotland's Court of Session to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol and hopes it "will encourage our own government to introduce the same measure here along with other key measures outlined in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill". The group, which set out provisions in the aforementioned bill on how minimum unit pricing might be done "urge speedy implementation […] likewise, we would also urge speedy implementation with regard to segregation in mixed trading outlets".

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