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Supermarkets must do more to tackle alcohol abuse - Ramsey

8 December, 2008 - by Fra McCann, Jennifer McCann, Sue Ramsey

Sinn Féin MLA's Sue Ramsey, Jennifer McCann and Fra McCann today met with representatives of the Federation of the Retail Licensing Trade in order to examine ways in which to curtail underage drinking and the increased availability of cheap alcohol in our local communities.

Speaking after the meeting Ms Ramsey said:

"There are a number of concerns regarding efforts to reduce the negative effects alcohol abuse has on our communities. One of the major factors was the sale of alcohol at cuts prices through super market outlets.

"Alcohol has never before been more readily available and cheaper than today and super markets slashing prices has helped lead to this phenomena.

"The major super markets can offer reduced prices on drinks regardless of high taxation on alcohol as this cost can be absorbed by the sheer size of the supermarkets and the countless other products they offer.

"At the moment young people have to pay around eight or nine pound to get to the cinema with popcorn and a drink. This would buy them 40 tins of beer or over eight litres of cider. Is this the message we should be sending out.

"In essence supermarkets can afford to do this to get people thorough their doors. This is not a responsible attitude and it is not the supermarket that is left to pick up the pieces.

"What we need to see is either co-operation from the super markets or the enforcement of a minimum price strategy. This would effectively place a bar on how low drink can be sold for putting alcohol out of the reach of many young people who are accessing cheap drink.

"In order to achieve this Sinn Fein will be seeking meetings with the local supermarkets and raising our concerns directly with them."

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