Belfast Telegraph

Cheap drinks code comes into force

A new complaints process to combat excessively cheap drink promotions in pubs and clubs in Northern Ireland comes into force this weekend.

The industry code to monitor the responsible sale of alcohol has been drawn up amid growing concern about binge drinking, particularly among young people.

One factor consistently linked to the social and health problem is the ready availability of low-cost drinks in licensed premises.

The Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion and Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland, formulated with the backing of the local drinks industry, goes live on Saturday.

It was launched three months ago but owners and licensees were given a period of time to adjust to the new system.

Under the code, people can make a complaint about a specific promotion to an independent panel chaired by Duncan McCausland, a former assistant chief constable with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Mr McCausland and his team of experts from health, education, alcohol and enforcement sectors will then investigate the claim. If the complaint is upheld it will be made public, with the police and council also informed.

The code is self-regulatory for the industry but it could eventually make it into legislation, with compliance becoming a condition of the granting or renewal of licences.

Colin Neill, chief executive of the representative body Pubs of Ulster, said: "Pubs of Ulster has been engaged in a series of workshops across Northern Ireland since the code was launched in May, each designed to brief the industry on the code and the potential consequences of any breach.

"We believe irresponsible drinks promotions have no place in our industry and will provide members with ongoing support and advice to ensure they do not accidentally breach the code."

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