Speaking to News Anois before the announcement, Gary Cusack – manager of Mulligans of Poolbeg Street – was hopeful that “draught wouldn’t be hit”. He said that further price-raises would make it increasingly hard to compete with supermarkets selling cheap lager as a loss leader.
“Growing up, drinking in a pub was part of my daily routine – now, it’s a luxury” he said. The ritual of going to a pub for the night has been replaced with buying cheap slabs of lager and showing up “half-cut at a club, only buying one drink”.
Suzanne Costello – CEO of Action Alcohol Ireland – welcomed the news. “Tackling pricing is one of the most effective ways a Government can reduce alcohol consumption and, simply put, if the price of alcohol goes up, alcohol-related harm – and the financial burden it places on the State – goes down”.
Costello did however note the weaknesses of the measure as a means of reducing alcohol-related harm. Large multiple retailers will be able to absorb the cost of excise duty increases by off-setting it by increasing the prices of other goods. Heavily-discounted alcohol will still be available to Irish consumers.
Speaking to News Anois, Conor Cullen of the same organisation accepted that raising excise duties on alcohol is something of a “crude tool”. He said that setting a minimum floor price for alcohol would be a more equitable solution.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland would also support a move towards minimum pricing – forming something of an unlikely alliance with Action Alcohol Ireland.
“‘The further increase in excise of 10 cent on the pint will only serve to widen the disparity between the on trade and off trade, encouraging the misuse of cheap alcohol being sold by supermarkets that sell alcohol as a loss leader.”