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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

This week is alcohol awareness week on an EU-wide basis. We spent many hours last week discussing the issue of binge drinking and alcohol abuse, and the terrible consequences of this for society. Last Sunday, an advertisement was placed in the Sunday Independent by one of Ireland's multiple retailers advertising the sale of 24 500 ml cans of Bulmers cider for €25. The cost to a publican in respect of the purchase of 24 cans of cider from C&C Gleeson, which owns Bulmers, is €39.89, plus VAT at 23%, bringing the total cost to approximately €49. What is indicated in the advertisement mentioned is below-cost selling. The advertisement also referenced Heineken and Guinness. This offer is also available online.
I do not propose to name the retailer because it does not need any help getting people through its doors to purchase below-cost alcohol. This is practically selling alcohol wholesale. We have been told by the experts that there is a direct correlation between the cost of a unit of alcohol and abuse of alcohol and that people who are abusing alcohol are more likely to buy cheap alcohol.
The Department of Health officials have been charged with finding a workable solution to accommodate small shops under the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. We need to bear in mind where the real problem lies. How can the small shop or publican ever hope to compete with what the large multiples are doing? They cannot compete with it. For the multiples, below-cost selling is a means of getting customers through their doors because they collect their profits elsewhere. They will not incur any loss and ultimately they reclaim the VAT on the sales of such alcohol from the State. There is something seriously wrong with that. We have a very welcome provision in regard to minimum unit pricing in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. We need to stop below-cost selling for the sake of the health of our nation and for the sake of the small businesses and publicans who are selling responsibly and have a good track record. This is a reality check as we debate this important Bill.