Former minister for sport Michael Ring has said he is "appalled" by outdated legislation that allows gambling to take place on underage sport and urged the Government to fast-track new laws to prohibit the activity.

Under existing legislation bookmakers are permitted to offer odds on games played by schoolchildren, a loophole that has been widely condemned. 

On Thursday an inter-county Gaelic footballer revealed he had bet against his own team in a National League game after being gripped by a crippling gambling addiction when he was a teenager.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, the Fine Gael TD said the problem of gambling addiction in this country can no longer be ignored and he called for swift and meaningful change. 

"We have a very serious problem out there of gambling addiction and I think legislation has to be brought in to deal with this," he said.

"This legislation goes back many many years, it needs to be updated, it needs to be updated quickly"

"I don't like it in sport, I don't think it's necessary in underage sport and I would like to see the legislation brought in to make sure that gambling in underage sport is not allowed. 

"Here within the country itself it's time that we looked at it, and it's time that we dealt with it. This legislation goes back many many years, it needs to be updated, it needs to be updated quickly and I have to say that I'm appalled to learn that now you can gamble on school games and underage games.

"That should not be allowed, particularly with the problems we have in this country in relation to gambling. It's very wrong. I will certainly be lobbying to make sure that this legislation is brought forward and that we deal with this very serious issue that we have now. 

"I would hope that with this new government, it's an issue that would get cross-party support. We love our sport, we like to see clean sport in this country and there's enough gambling going on - we shouldn't have it at underage level." 

Former Armagh star Oisin McConville overcame a serious gambling addiction and currently works as an addiction counsellor with Smarmore Castle private clinic in Ardee, and the 2002 All-Ireland winner has written a blog about recovering from such an addiction, called the Sustained 12-Step Recovery.

When you love someone you will do anything to help them, if that loved one is in trouble, lost, in despair and needing your help, our tendency is to search for that quick fix. To try to create a sanctuary to secure their safety and well-being.

In the midst of my compulsive gambling addiction lots of people who loved me and cared for me wanted to offer me help, as an addict in denial and unwilling to wave the white flag of surrender I rejected this help. Of course, as an addict reliant on not a heroin hit nor a bottle vodka but money to feed my habit I exploited people's want or need to help me. That bail out was only prolonging my agony and my time spent in addiction. Money is the only currency that a gambling addict appreciates or deals in, but only for a short period of time. 

Never give a gambler in addiction money, your killing them with every penny. Instead offer them a chance to confide in you and to signpost them towards help, it is this signpost that people in addiction need most.

Let a family member or close friend control finances for the foreseeable future and visit your GP, this is where it starts, never with a financial bail out. 

When I think about my own story and my gradual yet alarmingly sharp progress into my own gambling addiction, I can picture very vividly the hurt I caused along the way, family, friends, employers and teammates. Support for families in particular is also so important yet sometimes forgotten.

Sport is very important to me and is the reference point to most things in my life, therefore when I speak about my recovery, I liken my time spent in residential treatment to pre-season training, that residential treatment has given me a base for my long-term recovery. Gamblers anonymous allied with the 12-step programme is my maintenance, if you like my day to day training in order to keep that monkey off my shoulder, exactly where it should be. These basic skills I learned in treatment are the basis of my recovery.

1. Don't carry unnecessary amounts of money around.
2. Attend GA meetings regularly.
3. Keep talking and don't close off, your mind is like a parachute it only works when open.
4. Work the 12-step programme and live it.
5. Have a sponsors number and use in times of need.

Long-term recovery is in us all if we chose to do the right things.

Remember what Abraham Lincoln said "most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be".

GAA calls for new legislation to regulate gambling on school and juvenile games