19 January 2012

Minister Backs Proposal for Minimum Pricing Proposal for Alcohol

Fitzgerald’s statistics show that alcohol is a factor in half of all youth crimes

Local Minister, Frances Fitzgerald T.D., is supporting plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol in Ireland. The proposal would mean that supermarkets could no longer use special offers on alcoholic drinks as a loss leader. It would also have significant effects on the prices of own-brand label spirits.

“As a society we have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. A multi-faceted approach needs to be taken to tackle this culture. Introducing minimum pricing for alcoholic drinks is one of the steps that will go a long way towards shifting this culture and creating further barriers between alcohol and teenagers,” said Minister Fitzgerald.

“Research conducted by Irish Youth Justice Service, now under the remit of my Department, in conjunction with An Gardai Siochana, shows a shocking correlation between alcohol and crime. In 2008, alcohol related offences accounted for 20% of those referred to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme and perhaps more significant is the finding that when all alcohol related offences are taken into account – alcohol contributes to 50% of more of all youth crime,” continued Fitzgerald, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs.

“Alcohol abuse by teenagers contributes substantially to anti-social behaviours in our public spaces, parks, playgrounds and green areas. It has an impact on the lives not just of those who are becoming involved in public order offences but local residents who are affected night after night by breaches of the peace and often intimidation. Research conducted by the National Drug-Related Deaths Index in 2008 showed that one in four deaths in young men were due to alcohol. This is a startling statistic but, unfortunately, this is the harsh reality that many families are faced with. Introducing a minimum pricing structure for alcohol will impact on these young people’s ability to access alcohol,” continued Fitzgerald.

“We have seen first hand the impact of the introduction of mandatory alcohol testing in terms of the reduction of road deaths. More measures such as this need to be introduced to help reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland. Alcohol abuse costs the State around €4 billion every year in terms of health care costs, loss of productivity, criminal costs and alcohol related road accidents. Alcohol is involved in 27% of reported domestic abuse cases and is a contributory factor in half of all suicides. We need to do all we can to change this. Scotland has been leading the way in terms of changing national attitudes towards alcohol. I look forward to working with my colleague Minister Roisin Shorthall towards achieving this goal,” concluded Minister Fitzgerald.