Scullion calls for drinks consultation

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SINN Féin Councillor for Magherafelt, Caoimhe Scullion, is calling for responses to the ongoing public consultation on irresponsible drinks promotions by the Department for Social Development. The consultation opened on March 12 and will continue until May 7.

It is seeking opinions from everyone including consumers of alcohol, trade associations, criminal justice and health workers, those who run or work in pubs, registered clubs, supermarkets or other outlets selling alcohol, health professionals, voluntary and community groups, faith groups and all those dealing with the impact of irresponsible drinking

Cllr. Scullion commented: “The issue of irresponsible drink promotions is one of great concern to many of the public here. The culture of excessive drinking, especially amongst the young and vulnerable in our society, is something that effects all too many of us.

“It is an issue that many of us encounter through our work, whether that is as frontline health professionals, community support workers, working in pubs, clubs and food outlets, even as a teacher it is something that I find very concerning.

“Although most secondary school pupils are not of the legal drinking age it’s no secret that many of them can regularly gain access to alcohol, and frequently their preference is likely to be price driven. For me this is an important issue but there also must be some balance to the debate as it is those in our community with the lowest incomes that are most likely to be affected by these changes. That is why it important that a response is heard from a cross-section of the community.

“The Sinn Féin Belfast City council team has been doing some great work on this issue, led by Paul Maskey MLA and some good progress has already been made. This has been a burning issue in Belfast since the tragic death of Joby Murphy but it is also a cause for concern outside of Belfast, in many of our towns and rural areas right across the island. I will be calling on Magherafelt District Council to make a response as it could offer protection against irresponsible drink promotions within our district.

“As the recession continues to squeeze entertainment venues and they look for a competitive edge there is an increasing tendency towards drink promotions, which may provide value for the customer but at all times these must be responsible and the safety of the consumers must be the first and foremost consideration.”

The consultation will run until May 7. Further details are available online, along with the consultation paper and questions to the public and can be found at: www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/consultations