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Press Release: UCD STUDENT POLITICAL SOCIETIES UNITE AGAINST MINIMUM UNIT PRICING ...

Press Statement

Friday, 27 April 2021

UCD STUDENT POLITICAL SOCIETIES UNITE AGAINST MINIMUM UNIT PRICING WHICH WILL UNFAIRLY IMPACT STUDENTS

In response to the impending implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 UCD Students’ Union, UCD Young Fine Gael, UCD Labour Youth, UCD Fianna Fáil, UCD Social Democrats and UCD People Before Profit are all calling on the government to remove minimum unit pricing from the legislation as it will unfairly impact students and low-income earners.

Ruairí Power, Welfare Officer, UCD Students’ Union said;

‘While the overarching objectives of the bill are largely positive, the section pertaining to minimum unit pricing is a particularly regressive solution to a complex issue. The continual reliance on measures that target those on lower incomes to achieve sweeping societal change is not good enough. Whatever the positive intentions behind this measure are, it is one that undoubtedly places a heavier cost burden on students and low-income earners, while it will see no effect, positive or negative on high income earners. It is disappointing to see several opposition parties' row in behind this measure. If the Government is serious in its commitment to tackle alcohol abuse, we expect to see a significant corresponding increase in the allocation for mental health and youth services in this year’s budget.’

Adam O’Donoghue, Chairperson, UCD Young Fine Gael said; ‘I think it is atrocious to propose such a plan during a time of hardship when many people are unemployed, and the cost of living is relatively high. Ireland is a country that knowingly does not have enough supports for people suffering with addiction and abuse of alcohol and other harmful substances. The path the government has taken is extremely disappointing and shows a lack of awareness in taking effective reform to assist those who have a reliance on alcohol.

I am very concerned about the impact that this will have on students - who are already under crippling pressure to pay rent, college tuition and other expenses. I understand the attempt the government is making to have a positive impact on society’s health, but in reality this is only going to put more pressure on people with struggling finances. It is basic economic theory that people who are addicted to alcohol will pay whatever price and will sacrifice allocating income to other important expenditure like bills and accommodation. Implementing such regressive measures without effective reform of social supports already depicts a failed plan for the government.’

Ronan Cloney, Chair, UCD Social Democrats said;

‘We at UCD Social Democrats are opposed to the inclusion of minimum unit pricing in the upcoming Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. In our eyes, the Government are putting the cart before the horse in their tackling of alcohol abuse in Ireland. While such levels of poverty and deprivation exist in our society, implementing policies, which weigh heavier on low-income earners, is not a feasible way of tackling the issue of alcohol abuse. By moving forward with MUP, the Government will cause knock-on issues through depleting levels of disposable income- a move that is unjustifiable when so many people are already forced to live from day-to-day.

We need to see the Government work to implement services and supports in relation to alcohol abuse, for example by providing extra funding for addiction and dual diagnosis services and furthering Drug and Alcohol Task Force funding. The Government must also make greater efforts to poverty-proof policies like this in a bid to help those who need support rather than further punishing them. Until the Government takes such action, MUP is not the remedy they claim it to be.’

Lhamo Fitzsimons, Chair, UCD Labour Youth said;

‘The government must address the root of Ireland's drinking problem and do everything in their power to help those suffering from addiction. Treating the people like children by increasing prices is not going to solve the root of this issue. Alcoholism is a problem that cannot be solved by punishing people. The government must treat the people as mature adults who can make decisions and provide people with the tools to empower positive choices.’

Cillian Keane, Chair, UCD Fianna Fáil Kevin Barry Cumann said;

‘Given the lack of cooperation with Stormont on this issue a minimum pricing policy would simply encourage illegal cross border activities and fail to deliver on alcohol consumption reduction. As a result of this and the other reasons stated we in the Kevin Barry Cumann are opposed to Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018’

-ENDS-

**Please note: For all media queries and interviews, please contact Christina Kelly, Press Officer, on 0838348766 or on press@ucdsu.ie