Saturday 18 November 2017

Government has failed to curb cheap drink sales before says top social worker

Health Minister Leo Varadkar discusses details of his crackdown on alcohol consumption at Leinster House. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Health Minister Leo Varadkar discusses details of his crackdown on alcohol consumption at Leinster House. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

David Kearns

A leading social work figure has scoffed at Government plans to bring in minimum pricing for alcohol.

Trinity College’s Shane Butler said that this would be the seventh time that government has targeted cheap drink sales, adding that the alcohol policy proposals unveiled Tuesday were identical to those announced by the Government in 2013.

“I’m sceptical about this new bill because, as always, there’s been a delay every step along the way – even the latest announcement is the same as the one we had 15 months ago,” he said.

Read More: Booze price-cut impact to be 'marginal' - experts

Surprising RTE’s Liveline earlier today, Dr Butler called in to give his assessment of the new proposals after host Joe Duffy read out comments from the associate professor at Trinity’s School of Social Work and Social Policy.

“I would agree with most public health people that what’s been announced is a little step forward but it is the same thing we’ve been hearing since 2009,” he said.

“Indeed, they have much in common with previous public health proposals on this issue stretching back over the past 20 years."

Read More: Alcohol is still cheaper in the North amid plans for minimum prices across island

While welcoming a new minimum alcohol price Dr Butler laughed at the notion and said he was sceptical that it would go ahead.

“Maybe government is finally going to do something on this matter but it would the seventh time they’ve committed themselves to doing so.”

Responding to arguments that more education was the way forward, Dr Butler said research had shown consistently that “it had made no difference”.

“The problem is that our culture is so full of alcohol that it totally swamps any kind of negative message. It’s why the drink industry is happy to fund it.”

Press Association

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