Beer in Ireland could cost twice as much as it does in Northern Ireland under new minimum unit pricing

Beer in Ireland could cost twice as much as it does in Northern Ireland under new minimum unit pricing

BEER could be twice as expensive in Ireland as it is north of the border under proposed minimum unit pricing (MUP) rules, according to lobbying group Drinks Ireland.

The group has warned that there needs to be an 'all-island' response to pricing in order to avoid thousands of Irish citizens streaming across the border to buy booze.

The Irish Government is expected to introduce its new pricing structure within weeks, and plans to work in tandem with Northern Ireland have been discarded after its health minister said no action would come north of the Border until 2023.

These measures are part of gradual implementations since the Alcohol Act was brought into law in 2018, which has previously seen alcohol sections cordoned off from general aisles in supermarkets and restrictions on the advertising of alcohol.

Cheap alcohol brands, including beer, wine and spirits, will have their prices changed with the new regime setting a minimum price of €1.32 on a 440ml can of lager; €7.75 on a 750ml bottle of chardonnay; and €20.71 on a 700ml bottle of spirits, the memo reveals.

Supermarket own-brands will also be affected, with Tesco vodka to increase from around €13 to €21, and a €3.99 bottle of win shooting up to €6.50.

Director of Drinks Ireland, Patricia Callan, said: "While the drinks industry is in favour of tackling the sale of cheap alcohol to reduce alcohol misuse, it's imperative that MUP is introduced at the same time as Northern Ireland, a position that aligns with the previous Cabinet decision and reconfirmed in the current Programme for Government.

"The massive price differential that would result from a unilateral move on MUP would drive many price sensitive households, who have already been hard-hit by the pandemic, to shop across the border.

"It would also place massive pressures on border businesses, and lead to an increase in illicit alcohol smuggling at the border, all at a vulnerable time for our economy."