The new legislation which, according to reports, could be in place by the summer, will include provisions to prevent the sale of low-cost alcohol, making it illegal to sell or advertise alcohol at a price below the limit – which has yet to be determined.
Health minister Leo Vardakar said the new law is mainly aimed at those who drink in a “harmful or hazardous” manner and will most likely affect supermarkets with bargain deals and bars and clubs offering extremely low prices to students at promotional nights.
The announcement follows recent moves by the Northern Ireland Executive and Welsh government to press ahead with their own plans for alcohol minimum pricing.
However, the Scottish Government’s plan to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol is currently with the Court of Justice of the European Union, following an appeal by the Scotch Whisky Association, which had argued the proposal breached European law.
Other key proposals in the bill are provisions to prevent the sale of very cheap alcohol; health labelling and warnings, including calorie information; powers for environmental health officers to enforce the separation of alcohol within stores and to police minimum unit pricing; legal regulation of sports sponsorship; and restrictions on the advertising and marketing of alcohol, including a broadcast watershed.
Vardaker said: "Most Irish adults drink too much and many drink dangerously. This has an enormous impact on our society and economy through greater illness and higher health costs, public order and violent offences, road traffic collisions, injuries and absence from work."
In the UK, a ban on selling alcohol at ‘below cost’ was introduced in April 2014, which fell short of introducing a blanket minimum price on alcohol units.