Ask A Broadsheet Reader




Dave writes:

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has “concluded that the planned 50p per [alcohol] unit policy to be introduced in Scotland would restrict the market”. And It was “ultimately for the national court of an EU state to determine whether other measures would be as effective in achieving the desired public health benefit”.

Question: Do you think this will affect the Irish attempt of minimum pricing?


Minimum alcohol pricing for Scotland breaches EU law, court rules (STV)



The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) broadly welcomes the view of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with respect to the introduction of a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

The VFI understands that the ECJ appreciates the objectives of the Scottish Parliament to primarily reduce the hazardous consumption of alcohol, a view and objective we would share as a major industry stakeholder in Ireland.

The ECJ has stated that the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) is only justifiable if it is demonstrated to be proportionate and would achieve what higher taxes on alcohol or other forms of taxation wouldn’t achieve.

Statement from the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland

45 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

  1. Anomanomanom

    Of course. There is a much more effective way at solving drink related health issues. It’s simply to ban alcohol, let’s be honest here no one on their right mind wants that but it would be more effective.

    1. ollie

      Drink related health issues?
      The biggest issue with alcohol is the amount of crime and A&E admissions caused by drunks.
      The solution? Impose heavy financial penalties for alcohol related crimes and hospital admissions.
      The same should be applied to fatties, make them pay for their health issues.

      1. Anomanomanom

        I agree a little. Iv never understood why drunks are seen to in A&E. But as for “fatties” as you put it. Where do you draw the line, 1 lb over weight, bmi score or average weight.

  2. Anomanomanom

    Oh and just show Leo how delighted I am at this out come, I’m going to go on an extra mouldy bingey binge with extra cheap cheap alcohol. It’s my liver Il do what I want.

  3. Eamonn Clancy

    Lower the alcohol content. Our rounds habit is rediculous too. It sets a pace and as a result we all end up langered at the end of the night. You don’t see this in Rome, Barcelona or Paris, but if you do, rest assured they’re Paddies.

    1. Anomanomanom

      Iv never got the whole rounds things. And that’s not an irish thing, most people I know don’t do rounds.

  4. ollie

    This govt won’t increase taxes on alcohol because there are to many publican TDs and councillors, now that minimum pricing is a dead duck we can see Vradkar for what he really is, a soundbite.

  5. Fairhill

    F off Leo, had to run to the offy with 3 minutes to go last night to buy the missus a bottle of wine she took a motion for. Then this morning had to wait till 10.30 to go shopping with the normal drinking shopping hordes this morning to get a few beers for the Christmas? Then you try to charge me more for the inconvenience. So NO and F U nanny state, and F U Roisin Shortarse for starting it and looking for your plastic bag/ smoking ban legacy, go and fiddle with something else

      1. Fairhill

        Your right apparently 3 drinks is classified as binge drinking so I have been a Jakey and worse for years.

        I have more of ago Government problem than a drink, hopefully we can sort that early enough next year, useless Fffers

  6. Nicolas Roche

    ECJ ruling follows an ECJ opinion last Sept which strongly indicated that the Scottish govt proposal would be found to be illegal. Minimum pricing generates extra revenue for publicans whose purchase prices won’t increase, while adding nothing to exchequer funds. Govt doesn’t have the nerve to increase taxation, even though it’s much more societally beneficial, as too many publicans are TDs, and too many medical professionals act as publicans’ mouthpieces by failing to do the cost/benefit on minimum prices v taxation before offering public comment. To solve the identified problem (problem drinking) you need to target your solution. Taxation has only a partial role to play here. Increased taxation across the board punishes both problem and moderate drinkers. Increased taxation on the forms of alcohol problem drinkers consume (cheap spirits, beer and cider, I guess) will target a sector that, due to addiction, is highly demand inelastic. So increased prices due to either tax increases or minimum pricing may only minimally reduce consumption, while increasing other societal ills (theft to fund purchasing, redistribution of scarce income from basic necessities to alcohol purchasing). And who said economics was a dismal science!?

  7. fluffybiscuits

    Culturally we are all programmed in this country to drink like fish, we see nothing wrong with it. Time and time again I have gone on the lash and sought to justify it somehow with it being cultural but it is killing us. For six months last year I took a break from alcohol and stuck to soft drinks which nearly killed me too (Im type 2 diabetic). Leo could take a more positive approach and ask the doctors and socioligists to look at the culture and behaviours and why we think these are acceptable. Rounds systems, the lack of stigma attached to getting drunk and the soaring health costs associated with it.

    1. Anomanomanom

      The thing is it is in our culture. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Let’s not confuse the social drink culture, where most have a good time, with idiots who can’t handle drink getting black out drunk or causing fights. I can drink more than most people I know, 8/10 pints easily before I hit the spirits. I’m not proud of that, it’s just the amount I can tolerate. The morons who can’t drink like that but insists on trying are the ones who need education. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not being able to handle the same as the guy next to you. It’s the “he’s a light weight” culture that needs tackling.

      1. On The Buses

        In the WHO global report on alcohol 2014 (most recent), they found that the majority of drink related problems in society actually come from the ‘moderate’ or ‘normal’ majority. So it is not the few lunatics who cause the most damage it is the culture of normalised drinking that damages us all the most.

  8. Custo

    I love how Mad Varadkar was hell bent on upping the price in shops but did nothing to stop Weatherspoons riding into town. Cos nobody binge drinks in cheap pubs.

  9. john

    I cant believe the laziness of this legislation, Leo basically said give me the easiest, cheapest to implement solution that will get me some quick publicity. Clearly no thought on the underlying problem or the impact on every day drinkers. Really poor politics.

    1. delacaravanio

      That it’s kind of Varadkar all over though. Like him or not, at least Reilly pushed for universal health insurance. One of the first things Varadkar did was abandon it, despite it being in the Fine Gael manifesto and Labour party policy since foundation. He’s just interested in easy wins, hoping to get out of health without any scandals (like Micheal Martin with smoking ban)

  10. Zaccone

    If the government’s aim was actually to reduce alcohol consumption then we’d now see them raising duty on alcohol instead. This would have the side effect of increasing the cost of booze in both off-licenses AND pubs, however.

    As is more likely the case, if the government’s aim was to help the LVA, then the whole idea will now be brushed aside since they can’t target off-licenses exclusively.

    I wonder which will happen….hmm..

  11. Iwerzon

    They can up the price all they want as the super-markets will be offering all kinds of buy-one-get-one-free promotions to circumvent the increases and attract customers.

    1. Milk teeth

      The point of MUP is they can’t do that. I don’t really understand why the industry are so against it. 50p a unit only affects the cost of big bottles of cider, special brew and heavily discounted spirits.

      In my opinion the more you do to move drinking back to pubs the better. I think it would have been a good thing. But then the ECJ only ever supports the market not the social aims.

      1. Nicolas Roche

        Your criticism of the ECJ is entirely wrong. The ECJ’s judgment is far more supportive of social aims than the Government’s proposals. It says that, if you want to address alcohol consumption by increasing the cost, you should do so by increasing taxation, rather than by increasing the incomes of publicans.

        1. Milk teeth

          No its not. Look at judgments passed down by the ECJ they always support the market and very rarely support the social chapter. To be honest it was a bit of an unrelated swipe at them though. Just something that frustrates me re the ECJ.

          Do the Scottish Government have the power to increase alcohol tax?

          1. Nicolas Roche

            No bother at all. Yes, the Scottish government can take whatever measures it likes, including increasing taxation, so long as the measure distorts the market less than minimum pricing.

  12. munkifisht

    Minimum pricing is an effective taxation on being poor. It doesn’t affect those who can afford to drink the more expensive stuff at all. Fancy craft and more expensive wines who’t be affected much at all. To be fair what should be does is to introduce a percentage markup on the unit price of all drinks. I speak as a student on a stipend who has an occasional few quid in my pocket for a handy few cheap cans and a house party, but rarely can afford a night out in a pub.

    1. Neilo

      @Nicolas Roche: the Scottish Parliament has no powers to raise taxes on alcohol. That’s Westminster’s shout

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