Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Cross-Border Co-operation and Louth TD, Declan Breathnach has said that the Government are jumping the gun on imposing minimum unit pricing in the absence of a co-ordinated approach with Northern Ireland.

Deputy Breathnach was responding to reports that minimum unit pricing rules are to come into effect within 12 months pending cabinet approval which is due in the coming weeks.

He explained, “The cross-border implications for having minimum unit pricing on one side of the Border and not having it on the other side, are very serious. In forging ahead with this move the Government will be essentially creating a lucrative new smuggling market and wiping out the off licence trade along the southern side of the border.

“The danger with implementing this as a 26-county measure and not a 32-county measure is that it only incentivises shoppers to leave their communities and shop across the border.  While cheaper drinks will be the initial reason for travelling, the entire retail sector will take a hit.

“I believe strongly in the health and behavioural change effects of minimum pricing, but it clearly needs to be coordinated both North and South, if we are serious about protecting the Border region economy”, concluded Deputy Breathnach.