Tuesday 20 August 2019

Controversial alcohol legislation set to be watered down even further

Peter Gaughan, Balla, Co Mayo. Photo: Keith Heneghan
Peter Gaughan, Balla, Co Mayo. Photo: Keith Heneghan
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Controversial legislation aimed at curbing problem drinking looks set to be watered down further as plans to limit the display of alcohol in smaller shops are put on hold.

The proposal in the Public Health Alcohol Bill to introduce a booze curtain in these shops has already been dropped and replaced by a plan for limited shelving.

However, this has also now been set aside to allow more consultation with shopkeepers, the Irish Independent has learned.

The Bill, which will introduce minimum pricing of alcohol, doubling the cost of cheap beer, is to return to the Oireachtas after its debate in the Seanad this week.

The decision to park the proposal to have two one-metre shelves in shops has been welcomed by the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association.

Peter Gaughan, a shopkeeper in Balla, Co Mayo, said the organisation's executive will meet this week to draw up a list of alternatives to put to Health Minister Simon Harris.

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Mr Harris came under strong pressure from many senators and TDs from within his own party to reduce the impact of the legislation on around 1,800 medium to smaller shops selling alcohol.

Mr Gaughan said shopkeepers faced onerous expense to make their premises comply with the proposed law unless it was changed.

"We welcome the decision of the minister to consult with us to come up with a workable solution," Mr Gaughan said.

One compromise may be the installation of turnstiles or saloon doors to the alcohol section.

"If turnstiles were introduced, it would mean that shoppers would have to make a conscious decision to enter the alcohol area," he said.

Irish Independent

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