Compromise likely on Bill to separate alcohol in shops

Corcoran Kennedy has faced opposition within Fine Gael due to concerns at cost implications for small businesses

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy: she sent an email to her party’s TDs and Senators  outlining her rationale for separating alcohol from other goods

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy: she sent an email to her party’s TDs and Senators outlining her rationale for separating alcohol from other goods

 

The Government is set to compromise on proposed legislation that would lead to the separation of alcohol from other goods in shops.

It is believed that the enforcement of the measure, part of the Public Health Alcohol Bill, will ultimately depend on the size of the store and its volume of alcohol sales.

Minister of State for Health Marcella Corcoran Kennedy has faced stiff opposition from within Fine Gael over the proposal, with a number of her party colleagues claiming it would have major cost implications for small businesses.

Their stance has support from members of Fine Gael’s minority Government partners the Independent Alliance.

Ms Corcoran Kennedy sent an email to her party’s TDs and Senators this week outlining her rationale for separating alcohol from other goods, and insisting she would not be changing the legislation.

In it, she said, there was “a very substantial body of evidence” to support the proposal and set out three reasons.

“1. Marketing stimuli in store (in addition to other external factors) promote impulse purchasing.

“2. Some people are more prone to impulse purchasing than others, including those who suffer from depression and low self-esteem.

“3. Those who struggle with depression and low self-esteem are at considerably greater risk of substance abuse problems.”

Greater risk

Sources said the email caused anger and surprise within Fine Gael. The Minister of State had been asked for evidence to support her plans, and included links to four studies showing that the display of alcohol lead to impulse buying.

Her proposals seek to ensure that all alcohol will be segregated and potentially hidden by a curtain.

As well as introducing the so-called “‘booze burka”, the Public Health Alcohol Bill also aims to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol, that obligatory health warnings be placed on labels, and restrict alcohol advertising and promotion.

Senior Government sources last night admitted an agreement would be reached to appease both sides.

Minor tweaks

“It will not progress at all if we do not make minor tweaks. But Marcella is right not to make a move too quickly because if she makes changes too early the lobby groups will only seek to further dilute the legislation.”

Fianna Fáil supports the Bill, but a number of its TDs and Senators have raised similar concerns about the separation proposal which have stalled the passage of the legislation.

The Bill is due to return to the Seanad at the end of January.