A spokesperson for Diageo has rejected suggestions the company will scale down its operations in Ireland if drink companies are banned from advertising at big sporting events.

It had been reported that the company's Irish head David Smith had threatened to withdraw investment should the Government proceed with banning drink companies from sponsoring sports events.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Corporate Relations Director with Diageo Western Europe Peter O'Brien said the company has not made any such threat.

However Mr O'Brien, who is also chair of the Drinks Industry Group Ireland, warned Ireland would find it harder to compete for investment from drink companies should they create an “anti-alcohol” environment by banning drinks advertising at sporting events.

“We continue to try and win business and investment for Ireland,” he said.

“It will be more difficult for us to do that in the future if we have an environment that is very, very anti-alcohol. We have to have a sustainable environment,” he said.

Yesterday, RTÉ's The Week in Politics reported that an Oireachtas Committee which looked at proposal to ban alcohol advertising in sport has rejected it.

In a draft report the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications concluded that, because more money for sport from Government “could simply not be considered”, a ban on alcohol sponsorship “could not be countenanced”.

Mr O'Brien claimed Ireland already has some of the “strictest codes” when it came to alcohol advertising, and so there was no need for the “legitimate” practice of sponsorship of sporting events to be discontinued.

Mr O'Brien also rejected assertions that alcohol companies were unfairly targeting children with their sponsorship of major sporting events.

Diageo controls over 40% of the Irish drinks market.