There have been calls for Drinkaware, an organisation funded by the alcohol industry, to end education activities in Irish schools.

The Irish Community Action on Alcohol Network (ICAAN), which is part of Alcohol Forum Ireland, said schools must be advised that education programmes funded by the alcohol industry are inappropriate and should not be allowed.

Paula Leonard, Alcohol Forum's National Lead, has called for alcohol industry-funded Drinkaware programmes to be banned.

She said: "There is a risk associated with the agenda of the alcohol industry and why it chooses to fund charity organisations in schools, not only in Ireland but across the globe and what we're saying is there is an inherent conflict of interest in that.

"What we know when the Drinkaware was researched independently in the UK, there were concerns that it normalised consumption that it included some nudges to drinking.

"[And] that it glamourised the consumption of alcohol in the adult population and this was something young people needed to make responsible choices about rather than something that parents, and Government and organisations like ourselves, needed to influence policy around and how to protect young people."

Fewer teenagers are drinking in Ireland but one third of them have an alcohol use disorder, according to a report by the Health Research Board earlier this year.

The ICAAN says since March this year, over 30 organisations have adopted the i-Mark, which is aimed at supporting independence from the alcohol industry.

Figures show 15,000 students in 177 schools across the country have already engaged with the Drinkaware programme, despite the Taoiseach, the HSE and the Department of Education saying it is not appropriate.

Drinkaware is currently training teachers and running a programme on alcohol education for junior cycle students which is aimed at delaying their first drink.

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CEO Sheena Horgan says the programme is wanted by schools and that it is planning to expand it to transition year students due to demand.

"We are funded by but independent of the alcohol industry," she said.

"Alcohol has no place in childhood and that is the firm belief of us as a charity and currently there is no under age drinking alcohol education preventative programme in schools, apart from our one and it is needed and it is wanted by schools."

Global alcohol policy expert and advisor to the World Health Organization, Professor Tom Babor, said drink aware programmes in schools do not have an influence on young people's drinking habits.

He said: "They are likely to improve the image of the alcohol industry and the donars and give them political influence because it makes them look good.

"Part of the problem is that the evaluation built into the programme is incapable of answering the most important question on whether it is reducing the amount of intoxication in young people.

"In order to do that you need a control group and you need to be measuring outcomes and that is not in this programme."

As the allegations of a conflict of interest continue, schools across the country continue to engage with the Drinkaware programme.