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Alcohol bill increases coalition tensions

Relations between government partners Independent Alliance and Fine Gael are deteriorating further after a second public row in 24 hours, this time over the sale of alcohol in shops.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Transport Minister Shane Ross clashed this week over whether judges should be required to declare interests as “they might forget their oath”.

Mr Kenny publicly rebuked the Alliance minister, saying he did not accept the claim as he disassociated himself from Mr Ross’ opinion.

But Mr Ross stood by his remarks yesterday.

However, another row between both parties emerged last night after the Independent Alliance publicly said it opposed new Fine Gael-led measures on the sale of alcohol.

Junior health minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy is finalising plans to restrict the advertising, publicity, and sale of alcohol, under a bill from the last administration. One part includes restricting alcohol sales in shops and imposing separate areas.

Alliance members met with Ms Corcoran Kennedy and said the segregation plans were a “step too far”.

OPW Minister Sean Canney said that part of the Public Health Bill was a “retrograde step” and “inoperable”.

“Segregation like this will add nothing to the control of drinking,” he said.

Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran described the proposed measure as akin to a “nanny state”.

Rural and small retailers fear the measure will hurt business and increase shoplifting.