CHEAP supermarket beer is leading to higher alcohol consumption rates and anti-social behaviour in Cork, it has been warned, with drunkenness offences rising by 33% in 2018.
The number of offences related to drunkenness in Cork city rose to 1,009 last year - compared to 761 in 2017. The figures were released at today's meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee.
Chairman of Vintners' Federation of Ireland Cork branch Michael O’Donovan, who runs the Castle Inn on South Main Street, said publicans in the city are eager to see the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 enacted so minimum pricing alcohol is introduced in supermarkets and off-licences.
If passed, the legislation would mean the price of a 12 pack of cans would be increased from €12 to €20.
Mr O’Donovan said that last Christmas whole slabs of beer were being sold in Cork supermarkets for around €20.
“This has a major impact for our society,” he said.
“This was never meant to be what alcohol consumption was about. Pubs were meant to be the heartbeats of the community, create employment and be the safest place to consume alcohol. Most staff are trained at a very high level in dealing with people in difficult situations. The pub should be where the majority of alcohol consumption be carried out," he added.
It is believed the Bill won’t be brought into law until Northern Ireland introduces similar legislation to stop people from crossing the border for cheaper alcohol.
“Public health alcohol bill passed in the Dáil won’t come into effect until Northern Ireland bring it in. Current statistics show that 52% of all alcohol consumed is bought in off-licences. Minimum unit pricing should be brought in sooner rather than later,” Mr O' Donovan added.
David Lane, Co-ordinator for Drugs & Alcohol Services in Cork and Kerry for the HSE, said minimum pricing is hugely important.
He added the cheapness of drink leads to a significant increase in the consumption of alcohol and is embellished by marketing and advertising.
“We can buy alcohol nearly everywhere now,” he said.
“The Cabinet needs to enact sooner rather than later,” he added.
Councillor Henry Cremin (SF) said cheaper alcohol is a wider societal issue in Cork.
“I can recall decades ago, the same regular people falling all over the place. You knew the people that had problems. With the low cost of alcohol, people are bringing it home and this could lead to domestic violence that is unseen. When are we going to get a grip on the price of alcohol? It’s ruining society,” he added.
Workers’ Party representative Ted Tynan said cheap alcohol from off-licences have a direct link with anti-social behaviour in his area of Mayfield.
Chris O’Leary (SF) said the introduction of alcohol-free zones in the city is something which should be considered.