In his budget speech, finance minister Michael Noonan said there had been significant discussions on the issue at cabinet level in the Republic.
He said health minister Roisin Shortall had presented a paper on the causes and consequences of alcohol abuse, and confirmed that early next year she would legislate to deal with the issues identified – including the low cost of alcohol sold in Irish off-licences and supermarkets.
Separately, an authoritative health committee has called for immediate action to prevent VAT being reclaimed by retailers selling alcohol below cost price in Ireland.
Jerry Buttimer, who chairs the Health and Children Committee, called for an end to VAT refunds on below-cost alcohol sales after a meeting with Ireland’s National Off-Licence Association.
In the budget excise duties on alcohol remained unchanged, but the government announced a 2% VAT hike from January 1.