Cork North West Fine Gael T.D. Michael Creed has described the Government approach to tackling the problem of alcohol abuse as borderline shambolic. Speaking during a Dáil debate on the Sport Ireland Bill, Deputy Creed said:
“At present, the Government’s approach to this issue is borderline shambolic. It is stumbling around proposals for minimum pricing and is now long-fingering proposals in that regard. Abusive alcohol consumption is a cancer in Irish society and is closely associated with sporting organisations, which is very regrettable.
“I believe that at the stroke of a pen in the morning, the Government could reinstate the ban on below-cost selling of alcohol as was provided for in the groceries order that was abolished in 2006. The Government appears to have abdicated its position on minimum pricing until such time as the European Commission rules on the Scottish proposals, which are now under appeal there. The Minister of State should be in no doubt but that we are dealing with a powerful vested interest in the form of the drinks industry. Members have seen the tobacco industry flexing its muscles on plain packaging, but equally I have no doubt Members are witnessing arm twisting behind the scenes by the drinks industry with regard to minimum pricing.
“According to figures provided by the National Off-Licence Association before an Oireachtas committee hearing, incredibly Irish taxpayers subsidise the below-cost sale of alcohol to the tune of €21 million per annum through refunds to the multiples that have grossly offensive advertisements in the daily newspapers every day of the week, as well as in every Sunday newspaper, which are designed to increase footfall in order that they may sell other products to consumers”.