Tesco, Superquinn and a number of off-licences could face prosecution after an Irish TV programme ­captured them delivering alcohol to underage ­drinkers at their homes.

The test cases were highlighted by Irish national broadcaster RTE on its main current affairs programme Prime Time.

At outlets in Swords, County Dublin, the two ­supermarket chains accepted online orders and payment by debit card, while the off-licences took cash on delivery. None of the businesses asked the age or identity of those ordering.

The exposure has prompted one retail group, the 1,500-member Convenience Stores' and Newsagents' Association, to call for ­online alcohol sales to be banned. Spokesman Vincent Jennings said that while "the vast majority of retailers" had a comprehensive ­policy on ID cards at shop level, that did not apply to online sales.

Government action was needed to stop alcohol ­being available online, he added. "We have to accept the product for what it is ­either it's a controllable substance, or it's not."

Both supermarkets accepted responsibility and promised remedial action. Tesco said that online transactions represented "less than 2%" of ­alcohol sales, and added: "Tesco does not condone the ­delivery of alcohol to ­anyone below the legal age limit. We are investigating the issue and will take all necessary and appropriate action."

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