In a landmark case, Judge Kevin Kilrane ruled that a minimum price of €2.50 should be imposed on all alcoholic drinks in licensed premises in the Donegal seaside town.
It follows a recent drinks war in Bundoran which saw some alcholic drinks sold for just 50 cent while another premises offered a free bar to patrons for a €20 cover charge.
But last night the same punters who were availing of the bar wars were able to fill up on even cheaper drink – by buying it in the supermarket instead.
“Sure we spilt a bottle of vodka and we reckon that works out at about 35c to 40c a shot, though we’ve poured some big ones,” said Barry, 21, who was with five friends who were deciding where to go to afterwards.
“I heard about the judge’s ruling but it just means we’ll drink more outside before we go in,” he added.
His friend Sean (also 21) said the decision left him with mixed feelings.
“I can drink as much as I want here and then go into the club,” he said, “I’ve a few friends who work in the bars in Bundoran and the drink was over-priced.
“If it was the same price in the pubs as it is in the shops, then it might save a few of those jobs. For now we can’t afford the pubs so we’ll get most of our drink now in the off licence or supermarket,” he added.
Amy, who is 22, feared the ruling could hit one or more of the clubs in Bundoran.
“We change around and like to go from one to the other on different nights. It would be awful if any of them closed,” she said.
“I understand what the judge is doing and I agree with him, but sure you can just go and get the drink in the shop instead. At least in a bar it’s controlled. We got a bottle of vodka tonight for €18.
“It annoys me that a few idiots who can’t handle their drink destroys it for the rest of us. Boys who get into trouble will get into trouble anyway.”
The ruling may also be challenged legally, though this could not be confirmed last night.
It was welcomed by campaign groups.
But it was clear from young people in Bundoran last night that only a uniform across-the-board minimum pricing has any chance of curbing excessive drinking.
One club in the town was advertising new prices on Facebook; all above the judge’s minimum price. Their poster is below.