The Taoiseach has said he does not believe the drinks industry should be involved in school training courses, highlighting the risks of alcohol.

Micheál Martin said "I don't think the drinks industry should be near the schools in respect of anything to do with addiction".

His comments come after a charity working to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse, which is funded by retailers, producers and distributors, defended a training course it is offering to teachers.

The Chief Executive of Drinkaware said the course aims to highlight the risk of young people drinking alcohol and is designed to help children to understand the dangers and harms of alcohol.

Sheena Horgan told RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne that the prevention programme is also designed to show young people "how to push back on the age of the first drink".

Ms Horgan said she is very disappointed with HSE comments on the issue and that Drinkaware is filling "a very clear gap" in schools and that students, teachers and parents have called for the programme.

"It's a gap and a request that's being made by students and teachers and parents themselves saying that it's needed," she said.

"The HSE has been long aware of this programme. We have written to the departments of health and education and various Oireachtas committees."

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Ms Horgan said Drinkaware is funded by the drinks industry, but it has a public health remit and she pointed out that it has charitable status, which means the organisation went through an "independent, rigorous process".

"The fact that over 300 teachers have already been through the programme shows the need is there", she said, adding that it is "almost offensive to teachers to think they would be naive enough to deliver an inappropriate programme".

However, the Taoiseach said "it's through the HSE and the public health agencies that schools should draw resources from".

He said a curriculum has been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in relation to social, personal and health issues and that "that's the proper context".

"Many of the schools are probably entering in good faith, anxious to help students and help young people," he said.

However, Mr Martin said "the partnership should be between education, the HSE and the Department of Health".