Belfast Telegraph

New booze labelling laws in Republic 'to hit Northern Ireland drink exports'

By Margaret Canning

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has accused the Irish Government of "blatant hypocrisy" over changes to the labelling of beers sold in the Republic.

The East Antrim representative claimed the regulations will hit the sale of craft beers made on this side of the border.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is before the Dail for debate and would introduce changes such as minimum pricing and health warnings on labels.

Mr Wilson said: "For companies who have small sales in the Republic the cost to setting up labelling machines for small runs of different labels will mean they will be priced out of an already competitive market.

"This is obviously the intention of the regulation and is another example of the underhand tactics used by the Irish Government to restrict trade while waving the flag for the European single market."

The Bill would bring a requirement for labels to feature mandatory warnings to inform the public of the link between alcohol and cancer and the danger of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Labels must also give details of an Ireland-specific website, established and maintained by the Health Service Executive, to provide public health information.

The warning labels have to take up at least a third of the dedicated labelling space of all alcohol products sold.

Last week Hospitality Ulster, the industry body for the licensed trade, said producers had expressed concerns over the impact of the legislation on their ability to export across the border.

The organisation said there were now around 40 microbrewers and craft distillers in production which would be affected by the legislation and hit with a "significant financial burden on their businesses by creating new barriers to trade on the island of Ireland".

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: The Republic of Ireland is the key export market for the majority of Northern Ireland's alcohol producers.

"If the Irish Government introduces this particular element of its planned legislation, it would represent a significant impediment to the growth of those businesses, including a number of craft distillers."

Belfast Telegraph

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