Supermarkets and convenience stores selling alcohol in the Irish Republic may be obliged to stamp their names and addresses on bottles and cans in a bid to counter underage drinking.
Justice minister Michael McDowell wants to include the identification measure in new legislation cracking down on widespread alcohol abuse, but acknowledges there are practical difficulties.
He told parliament in Dublin that when young people were found in possession of drink, it would be of "significant assistance" to the police if they could establish where they had got it.
But he warned: "There are practical problems with a store identification scheme. In the case of a six-pack, are retailers to break it open and stamp every bottle?
"Are they to rip open trays of beer cans and stamp every one before they can sell it?"
He is currently discussing with police chiefs how these problems can be overcome, and added: "I will accept any reasonable suggestion as to how a workable scheme can be put in place."
However, Jim McCabe, vice-chairman of the National Off-Licence Association, claimed such a measure could lead to retailers being wrongly prosecuted.
"The youngster found drinking alcohol in the park may have stolen it, or just taken it from home," he said.
"It could have been legally sold to his parents by the store whose name is on the can or bottle. But the retailer could still end up in court."

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