Updated: 09/02/18 : 06:19:52
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Government’s alcohol bill 'dramatic' says McLoughlin

The government’s alcohol bill will cost jobs and stigmatise Irish products, TDs have said.

The bill, which proposes rules on minimum pricing, advertising and cancer warning labels, was described as “dramatic” by Tony McLoughlin, a Fine Gael TD for Sligo Leitrim.

Speaking to The Times (Irish Edition) Deputy McLoughlin said he was concerned that the bill would have a disproportionate impact on small distilleries who would be required to spend up to €50,000 to comply with the labelling requirements. He said that many new companies would be deterred from entering the Irish market due to the cost.

“I am speaking as a lifelong pioneer [an abstinence association] who has never taken a drink, but this bill goes too far and as such it is going to have many unintended consequences,” he said during a Dáil debate yesterday. “I support the concept of reducing alcohol consumption, but we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater in our excessive attempts to tackle a problem.”

Abandon plans

Similar concerns were raised by Eamon Scanlon, Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim, Bernard Durkan, Fine Gael TD for Kildare, and Kevin O’Keeffe, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East.

“Balance is a word lost in this bill,” Mr Scanlon said. He read a letter from P J Rigney, managing director of The Shed Distillery, in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, which threatened to abandon plans for a €2 million visitor centre because of the bill’s advertising restrictions.

Mr Rigney said the bill’s restriction on advertising within 200 metres of a school or creche would essentially mean he could not promote the business in large pockets of Dublin and other cities. He said that suggestions in the Dáil that alcohol companies had deep pockets and could afford losses caused by the bill were untrue.

“We employ 18 people and are a small start-up creating high-quality Irish products, but this government doesn’t care enough to even talk to us about this extreme, unbalanced, and prohibitionist bill,” the letter said.

Jack Chambers, Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West, backed the bill’s proposal to remove alcohol advertising from sport events. He said Guinness had been linking itself to rugby for too long.