Belfast Telegraph

Publicans hail drink pricing proposal, retailers call it the 'wrong approach'

By Joanne Sweeney

Reaction to the Health Minister's proposed introduction of a minimum price of alcohol at 50p per unit has been mixed.

Pubs of Ulster, the professional body for Northern Ireland's licensed trade, has broadly welcomed the move.

However, the Northern Ireland director of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the professional body that represents supermarkets and major high street retailers, is opposed to it. Joe Hyland, the director of the SOS Bus - a charity that helps vulnerable people on Belfast's streets - said minimum pricing would have a positive impact.

"This will raise the price of the cheaper end drinks quite considerably, but the truth is that if people want it, they will get it," he added.

Last night Aodhan Connolly of the BRC said that most of the major retailers believed minimum pricing was "unfair to responsible consumers".

He added: "This is the wrong approach to tackling excessive consumption.

"It will simply penalise the vast majority of consumers who already drink less than the Government's recommended limits."

Colin Neil, chief executive of Pubs of Ulster, said: "For too long we have seen the damage caused by the proliferation of cheap drink in society.

"It's important to say that minimum pricing will not be the panacea for harmful drinking practices, nor will it drive more people back to the pub.

"The pub industry will continue to work with Government to ensure that alcohol is sold responsibly and at a realistic price."

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