Sir, – Alcohol Action Ireland continues to ignore the fact that Ireland already has the second highest level of excise on alcohol in the EU, multiple times above the EU average and one of the highest in the world (“The case for increasing tax on alcohol”, Letters, September 21st).
This is on top of minimum unit pricing introduced in January 2022.
Indigenous drink producers like the Shed Distillery create high-quality premium brands that are not sold cheaply and are already burdened with extraordinary high levels of excise and VAT.
As a small indigenous producer in Drumshanbo, in rural Leitrim, we are creating local jobs and driving tourism to the region, which means a lot to our community, but the cost of living crisis is already very challenging and increasing excise even further would do nothing but hurt my valued employees, our community and other craft producers across rural Ireland.
It would also hit small rural pubs and hospitality businesses, which face soaring costs. A recent report from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland found that almost 2,000 pubs have closed across the country since 2005, with rural premises most at risk of shutting their doors.
Furthermore, the cost of living crisis means Irish people face the highest prices on consumer goods in the EU.
While we can all support the objective of reducing harmful consumption, hitting consumers who enjoy a drink and do so in moderation with such broad-based extreme policies is not logical.
This comes at a time when alcohol consumption and patterns are changing for the better. Alcohol consumption is down by around 30 per cent in the past 20 years, according to Revenue data, and younger people are leading a trend of moderate consumption.
Beyond price controls and super high excise tax, Ireland has some of the most stringent legislation and codes in the world for the marketing and sale of alcohol, so calls for further punitive action shows nothing more than a desire to damage an important Irish indigenous sector and our rural community.
There is more to do, but we need practical and proportionate solutions.
My late dad always taught us moderation and balance, which is something Alcohol Action Ireland could do well to take note of. – Yours, etc,
Founder and managing director,
The Shed Distillery,