Breakthrough in Alcohol Bill

Vincent Jennings of the CSNA presents a petition of 80,000 signatures to the Dáil amid the Alcohol Bill debate
Vincent Jennings of the CSNA presents a petition of 80,000 signatures to the Dáil amid the Alcohol Bill debate

A breakthrough has been reached in the debate over the dreaded alcohol bill, which has been described by CSNA head Vincent Jennings as a "significant concession to retailers".

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15 December 2017 | 0

In great news for retailers, a new version of Section 20 (Structural Separation) of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill has today been ratified, having passed through all stages of the Seanad. The redrafted Bill will now proceed to the Dáil in January.

The development is a huge success for the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) which organised a petition against the previously proposed Section 20. This intervention avoided the implementation of legislation which would have proved extremely costly for small and medium retailers and curbed adult shoppers’ ability to browse the alcohol section in their local store.

Speaking to ShelfLife today, Vincent Jennings, CEO of the CSNA said there will now be a two-year timeline for retailers to implement the new legislation, as opposed to the one year schedule originally outlined.

Under the new Bill, Section 20 will include three options for retailers as follows:

  1. Implementation of a barrier which cannot be see-through (such as a restaurant-style canvas) and no less than 1.2m in height, to be installed in front of the in-store alcohol section. This will mean consumers make an “adult conscious decision” to browse alcohol in-store
  2. Installation of self-contained units, including a door over a shelf, which must be non-visible up to 1.5m
  3. A small amount of alcohol, up to 3 bays (up to 1m in width and 2.2m in height), are allowed to be fully visible

The legislation also includes the provision that all alcohol stored behind a shop counter must not be visible.

Jennings described the new legislation as representing “a significant concession to retailers”. While expense may still be incurred by some stores, it will prove “not anywhere near” the measures previously proposed.

What’s more, small convenience stores which contain no more than three bays of alcohol (as outlined above) will not be required to make any changes to their existing set-up. ShelfLife is sure this news will come as a major relief to many small retailers who previously expressed their  concern over the impact Section 20 would exert on their businesses.

On behalf of the entire team at ShelfLife, we would like to thoroughly congratulate our trade organisations CSNA and RGDATA for making a real difference to retailers nationwide through their representation. Once again, this shows the importance of making your views known to your local representatives and making a case for sensible, evidence-based legislation.

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