Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithi Flynn has welcomes the Department of Health commitment for a full consultation on Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol and said that action on the issue is needed as a matter of urgency.
The West Belfast MLA said:
“While I welcome today’s announcement the Minister of Health has only committed to launching a consultation on a broader Substance Misuse Strategy, with a further consultation on Minimum Unit Pricing the following year.
“I have been calling for these developments for quite a while as they have a positive role to play in addressing problem drinking and reducing health inequalities.
“Sinn Féin supports the introduction of minimum unit pricing which puts a minimum price per unit of alcohol on products of low cost and high alcohol volume.
“I am concerned that the Minister has failed to reference the need to advance this issue on an all-island basis, considering the sizable work already done to date in the department initiated by Michelle O’Neill as Health Minister.
“This is a public health response and so needs to address the realities of public life. The fact that one shop a mile down the road may be subjected to a minimum unit price when another is not creates obvious challenges and loopholes.
“As part of the Sinn Féin response to the drugs and alcohol strategy last year we called for a broader substance misuse strategy and I am pleased to see this is being taken forward. I will continue to press the Minister to progress this and ensure that existing Mental Health and Addiction services meet the needs of patients and those seeking support.”