Alcohol sponsorship ban would hurt sports industry - Cttee

Tuesday 02 July 2013 19.23
Committee has recommended that a code of practice for the consumption of alcohol with stadia be drawn up
Committee has recommended that a code of practice for the consumption of alcohol with stadia be drawn up

A report by the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications has said a ban on the sponsorship of sporting events by the drinks industry should not be introduced.

The report said the main sporting organisations in Ireland would suffer inordinately if such a ban was implemented, with no obvious source of alternative funding.

It noted that there was anxiety among medical experts to have the association between alcohol and sport severed.

However, it said that in the current economic climate the main sporting organisations would suffer if a ban was introduced.

The committee said any ban on sponsorship would have to be implemented at European Union level to be effective.

It has recommended the establishment of an addiction fund to help reduce the abuse of alcohol.

A fixed percentage of sponsorship funds received by sporting, cultural and arts bodies would be ring-fenced for this central fund, it said.

The committee has spent the last number of months examining recommendations to phase out drinks industry sponsorship by 2016.

It heard from sports bodies including the GAA, the IRFU and the FAI as well as health experts and representatives of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland.

Also among the recommendations is that a code of practice for the consumption of alcohol within stadia be drawn up by all sporting organisations.

The Government is considering proposals that would outlaw all drink sponsorship of large sporting events by 2020.

Minister of State Alex White said he believes that alcohol sponsorship of sports should be ended, and described such sponsorship as "counterintuitive".

But he said sports bodies would be given a long lead-in period if a ban was introduced.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has described the recommendations as "short-sighted".

Alcohol Policy Group Chair Professor Frank Murray said the recommendations "fail to take account of the considerable body of evidence, which indicates that young people in particular are very influenced by the alcohol industry".

Elsewhere, the newly-elected Fine Gael Mayor of Co Galway, Cllr Liam Carroll, has endorsed the sponsorship of sporting events by alcohol companies.

Speaking at the launch of the programme for this year's Galway races, the mayor said it is vitally important that alcohol companies continue to pump money into sporting events.

Guinness is the sponsor of the Galway Hurdle handicap at this year's festival.