The head of an addiction treatment service in Co Wexford has welcomed the increase in the minimum pricing for alcohol, while warning that unless further support is provided for homeless people and alcoholics, they will suffer from the magnitude of their circumstances. Will turn to drugs to help take the focus off.
A comprehensive analysis of the new measures shows that a standard bottle of wine cannot be sold for less than €7.40 and a can of beer for no less than €1.70.
Spirits such as gin or vodka with 40pc alcohol content cannot be sold for less than €20.70 and a 700ml bottle of whiskey for no less than €22. The new law will largely affect alcohol sold off-licence, in stores and supermarkets.
“On the surface, as a health measure, I think it’s a plausible thing, and evidence, such as it is from countries like Scotland, would suggest that it helped reduce alcohol-related problems, said Mr. Delaney.
Section 11 of the Public Health (Liquor) Act 2018 provides for a minimum unit price of 10C per gram of alcohol.
Minimum unit pricing will set a minimum price below which alcohol cannot legally be sold and will target products that are cheap relative to their strength. The minimum price is determined by the amount of pure alcohol in the drink and is directly proportional, the statement said.
Mr Delaney said he was disappointed to read that the extra money the government raised from the sale of more expensive alcohol was being kept for general purposes and not funneled directly into alcohol addiction support services.
“I find it strange. I think the government should take the opportunity to invest in additional health services and my other concern is street drinking and homelessness and people who are highly dependent on alcohol. There is some evidence coming out from other countries. that they often turn to more dangerous sources of alcohol in the home and consume other forms of drugs – when the cost of alcohol is so high.”
Freezing temperatures and housing shortages have seen the homeless figure in Co Wexford double during the pandemic, according to anecdotal evidence from support services like the Cornmarket Project, whose homelessness team is led by Tina Sutter.
“You can only imagine being outside this season and relying on alcohol to deal with that horror. not being able to buy alcohol; You will feel like you will die of alcohol withdrawal. Availability of cheap drugs is a factor and evidence from countries that introduced minimum alcohol pricing suggests that this small, but important segment of society will often turn to cheaper tablets, which are clearly available in abundance. ,” said Mr. Delaney.
He said that this unintended consequence of the price of liquor should not be ignored. “I don’t think this move is a silver bullet. Data suggesting it has a positive impact on society, especially if it reduces wasteful drinking, would be welcome.”
Calling for a holistic approach, Mr Delaney said support services need to be funded to tackle the inevitable fallout.
The Cornmarket Project was dealing with six rough sleeper cases a week in early 2020.
Recently this figure has increased to between 15 and 20 people.
“It is everything from people sleeping in tents to people sleeping in unusable buildings. I was talking to a young man before Christmas who was sleeping in a disused building in Enniscorthy. It really struck me when he said ‘I can live with living in an unusable building but there’s absolutely no place for me to wash or change my clothes’, and he had clothes.
After funding is given for a one-day homeless service, the Cornmarket Project team will launch one in the coming weeks.
“It’s down to an increase in that type of clientele: people in their twenties are coming to us, and younger. Many people have experienced physical or sexual abuse and lose touch with their families and all kinds of people.” That’s why they come on the streets.”
A cornmarket project is often the only way these individuals can connect to the services.
“We give them clothes, hot food and advocate for them. Many have dropped out of early school and cannot advocate for themselves.”
They welcomed the appointment of an outreach homeless worker by HSE, who liaises with the weekly Cornmarket Project.
“I appreciate HSE because it is so much needed in Wexford. The person helps people connect to the services.
“We are now working more closely with Wexford County Council than we have ever done before. There has been a shift by council towards recognizing that rough sleepers are an issue here and collectively within the Council, HSE and itself. In between we have been able to intervene a lot.”
He is optimistic that as the new year approaches, rough sleepers will have more opportunities to break the cycle of addiction and turn a corner in their lives.
Justice Department funding will go a long way in helping rough sleepers in this regard.
“The department funded the service to this day because many fat sleepers end up in petty thefts and courts.”
The Department of Social Security has also been funded for a Rehabilitation CE plan, which will run on the Cornmarket project from spring.
“The pandemic has highlighted a set of clients, including Wexford, who have not previously been exposed to any extent, are expected by themselves and other advocacy bodies. Now the Department of Justice, the Department of Social Security and HSE have all come through with the funding.
“There is a national conversation going on and everyone is talking through the media about poor sleep and homelessness and also about the housing crisis. This in itself brings up the issues we are concerned about and has helped us secure funding and grow our services.”