The powers are contained in section 22 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003. They provide for the making of regulations to specify particulars to be affixed to a container in which intoxicating liquor is sold for consumption off the premises, which would enable the licensee and the licensed premises concerned to be identified.
I am consulting interested parties prior to making regulations with a view to ensuring implementation of this measure is effective. Discussion of issues arising in this context is ongoing between officials in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and representatives of trade organisations and other interested parties, including the Garda. I intend to notify the European Commission of proposed regulations in accordance with the so-called technical standards or transparency directives to avoid a later challenge to regulations made under section 22.
These directives have been put in place at EU level to give the European Commission and member states an opportunity to examine, in advance, proposed national standards and rules in the interests of transparency and the smooth functioning of the internal market. The notification will take place when consultations with interested parties have concluded and details of draft regulations have been progressed.
This is not an easy question. It would be a great idea if every tin of cider, beer or whatever or every bottle of wine could be labelled in every off-licence, supermarket and so on so that its source could be identified. Nothing sounds easier. However, if a tray of beer needs to be disassembled so that bottles can be marked or bubble packs must be cut apart to mark each bottle with something that is identifiable with every off-licence, that presents significant difficulties for large supermarkets, in particular. Although one might think the common-sense approach to this would make for a simple solution, it is not that simple.
It would be twice as difficult to introduce a system that would require the incorporation of marking into the product because it would have to be considered whether a foreign manufacturer would have to incorporate such marking at the point of manufacture or whether it could be applied at a later stage in the retail distribution network. It is easy to discuss this issue but it is difficult to do something about it.