Belfast Telegraph

Minister rounds on retailers over cheap booze promotions

Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

The scourge of cheap booze remains rife in Northern Ireland where strong alcohol continues to be sold at knockdown prices, it can be revealed.

Stormont ministers have hit out at the low-cost drink culture here after a charity discovered that two-litre bottles of cider were recently retailing for just £1 a time.

Alcohol Concern said that ‘Scimitar’ was being sold at less than 7p a unit in Lidl — considerably lower than the 40p- 70p-per-unit limit currently proposed by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Charity spokesman Andrew Misell said: “The bottle on sale at Lidl for just £1 contains almost four times the recommended daily maximum amount of alcohol for an adult male.”

A Belfast Telegraph investigation found that cut-price alcohol was freely available across Northern Ireland — and not just in the German-owned discount stores.

Shelves in the ‘big three’ supermarkets — Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda — were brimming with bargains, while value-for-money was also being offered in Marks and Spencer and Russell’s Cellars, the independent drinks supplier.

In response, Environment Minister Alex Attwood (inset) has called for immediate action from all |outlets promoting “excessive drinking”.

“Lidl should withdraw this promotion and any other irresponsible drinking promotions,” said Mr Attwood.

“So too should other multiples. This is an invitation to drink and drink excessively. It should have no place in off-sales practice.”

A spokeswoman for Lidl Northern Ireland said the Scimitar strong white cider was on offer from March 26 until April 1, and added: “This was one of 57 advertised lines on offer in that week.”

An M&S spokeswoman said: “As we are not known for selling cheap alcohol, we are not in a position to comment.”

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s said that the supermarket was “a responsible retailer who takes the sale of alcohol very seriously”.

The other retailers last night failed to outline their pricing policies on the sale of alcohol.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland and Health Minister Edwin Poots are looking into the impact of a minimum price for alcohol.

Department of Health figures suggest that alcohol abuse costs the province as much as £900m each year.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph