NOffLA Speaks: Structural separation

The UK Government is to ban alcohol sales costing less than the cost of duty plus VAT next week following both Houses of Parliament signing off on the measure last week.

NOffLA asks why the 2008 Intoxicating Liquor Act, one of the most effective measures to ensure the responsible sale of alcohol in Ireland, is not being observed



Read More:

18 June 2015

Share this post:



As the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 makes its way through the Oireachtas, those concerned about the responsible sale of alcohol in Ireland know that one of the most effective measures is already law, but not in effect.

The 2008 Intoxicating Liquor Act included strict provisions for the sale of alcohol in grocery and other mixed trade outlets, including the physical separation of alcohol from other products in mixed trading outlets. However, the then Minister, Dermot Ahern, shied away from implementing the legislation in full by not activating the Ministerial Order enforcing the separation of alcohol as outlined in the 2008 Act.

Voluntary code

This deficiency was supposed to have been replaced by a voluntary code of conduct by mixed trade retailers. Not surprisingly, there have been various calls on the government to implement the provision of structural separation of alcohol from other products. A report from the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group, published in February 2012, specifically called on the government to “commence Section 9 (structural separation) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008”.

Large supermarkets, which use cheap alcohol to attract footfall, suggested that structural separation would endanger retail jobs. However, this has since been shown not to be a genuine concern. Former Minister for State at the Department of Health, Roisin Shorthall, voiced her support for the steering group’s approach when she made the contention that the structural separation of alcohol in mixed trading environments “has very minor implications for jobs – negligible, in fact”.


The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 will include provision for Environmental Health Officers to monitor the sale of alcohol structurally separated in a mixed trading environment. For this reason, NOffLA’s government affairs director, Evelyn Jones was positive about the prospect: “Structural separation will provide for the clear demarcation of alcohol from other grocery products so that they are not available to under-age purchasers. In addition, this measure will help to ensure that the purchase of alcohol is a conscious and informed decision, and not an impulse due to the strategic positioning of alcohol products in aisles and close to tills, which is in keeping with the Minister’s acknowledgment that alcohol is no ordinary product.”

Jones has also pointed to the great importance of this control on the responsible sale of alcohol: “Structural separation of alcohol products in mixed trading premises is of paramount importance as it will allow consumers to make the conscious decision about whether or not to purchase alcohol. Structural separation will also mean that children will no longer be confronted with alcohol every time they enter a supermarket.”



Share this post:

Read More:

Back to Top ↑

Shelflife Magazine