Europe

Centra stores criticised for child benefit drink deal

A supermarket chain in the Irish Republic has been crititcised for offering cut-price alcohol in a child benefit day promotion.

Centra has told the four branches involved to end the deal.

Politicians and campaign groups criticised the promotion and it is being referred to the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs.

A flyer was circulated by two stores in Dublin, one in Kilcoole, Co Wicklow and another in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Centra said it takes the sale and promotion of alcohol very seriously and it has instructed the retailers involved to withdraw the promotion.

Two cheap alcoholic drinks were advertised alongside reduced price biscuits, pizza and ice cream.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter condemned the inclusion of alcohol in the offers.

"It suggests that some retailers are more concerned with boosting their turnover and profits than selling alcohol responsibly," he said.

"I am also shocked at the suggestion that allowances paid by the State for the benefit of children should be targeted in such a cynical manner by the retailers concerned".

'Insulting'

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan described the promotion as "totally irresponsible", especially when "one in 11 children in Ireland are living with a parent with problematic alcohol use".

Barnardos said the campaign sent out the wrong message about what child benefit is designed to do.

Its chief executive Fergus Finlay said: "This promotion is insulting to parents and families all over Ireland who are already struggling to provide for their children."

The campaign also drew criticism from Fianna Fail's Senator Averil Power and Councillor Nick Killian.

Centra said: "The promotion is not part of a national marketing plan or promotional strategy

"Centra fully understands that the abuse of alcohol is a serious issue in Irish society and apologises for the promotion, which although isolated to four stores, is contrary to Centra's belief that retailers have a critical role to play in ensuring that alcohol is promoted and sold responsibly.

"The promotion undermines our genuine commitment to take our social responsibilities regarding alcohol extremely seriously."