Simon Harris hoping to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol by autumn

Alcohol Action Ireland is warning that the country "has a significant crisis with alcohol"

Simon Harris hoping to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol by autumn

Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

It is claimed women can reach their weekly alcohol limit for as little as €5.

Alcohol Action Ireland says Ireland has a 'significant crisis' with booze, with many people favouring strong and cheap drinks.

The organisation suggests a woman can reach her weekly recommended low-risk limit - 11 standard drinks - for only €4.95.

Men, meanwhile, can reach their recommended limit of 17 standard drinks for only €7.65.

A pricing survey by the group looked at alcohol prices across several major stores & supermarkets, and found that a number of brands of cheap cider had the lowest price for a standard unit (as low as 45c).

Eunan McKinney, the Head of Communication and Advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland, said: “Ireland has a significant crisis with alcohol. Recent data regrettably demonstrates that our consumption level continues to rise.

"The central drivers of such high-risk consumption are price and availability and, in this context, given the scale of known alcohol related harms, it would be unwise now for our government to consider any lowering of current excise regime.”

The group also says that it sees the implementation of minimum unit pricing on alcohol as a "central instrument to aid a reduction of the levels of Ireland’s alcohol consumption".

Minimum unit pricing (MUP) means a 'floor price' is set, and alcohol cannot legally be sold for lower than that price. It is due to be introduced as part of the Government's Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, but the legislation has faced significant delays as it passes through the Oireachtas.

In its pre-budget submission, Alcohol Action Ireland also says further consideration should be given to a Social Responsibility Levy on the drinks industry.

Health Minister Simon Harris says he's hoping to tackle problem alcohol consumption by introducing minimum pricing by the autumn.

He explained: "We can talk about all of the substance misuse we want in this country - but until we get serious about acknowledging the elephant in the room, which is our relationship with alcohol, we're not going to make inroads into that from a public health point-of-view".