Irish price hike to bring boom to Northern Ireland drinks retail sector

A new public health policy in the Republic of Ireland promises a boom period for the drinks sector in Northern Ireland - as well as a possible renaissance for the Irish Poitín ( an illegally brewed spirit) industry!

Earlier this month minimum unit pricing on alcohol came into effect south of the border. A body representing Irish off-licences says that means many products now retail at twice the price in the Republic of Ireland compared to Northern Ireland.

Under the new measures, a standard bottle of wine cannot be sold for less than €7.40 (£6.40) and a can of beer for less than €1.70 (£1.40). Spirits with 40% alcohol content cannot be sold for less than €20.70 (£17.30) and a 700ml bottle of whiskey for less than €22 (£18.40). The particular targeting of whiskey will be controversial given the importance of the Irish whiskey sector.

The Irish government believes minimum pricing is a vital public health measure.

The measure aims to change dangerous patterns of alcohol behaviour with the intention of deterring binge drinking and affects alcohol sold in off licences, shops and supermarkets.

The of a trade body that represents many off-licences in the Republic of Ireland says it is only a matter of time before people start to travel to buy alcohol.

Vincent Sweeney, chief executive of the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association, says people will "save themselves very considerable amounts of money by going north of the border".

Some products are now twice the price in the Republic than they are in Northern Ireland, he adds.

"I think it has come as an enormous shock to people just how great the differential has been."

Moves to introduce minimum pricing in Northern Ireland have been discussed for some years, however the boon to the Ulster's economy by Ireland's new pricing structure may put the move onto back-burner.

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