President Michael D Higgins wants to see legislation on advertising of gambling in sport and further protection of vulnerable players and the integrity of games.

In an interview on RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday Sport, discussing his love of sport while in Croke Park for the All-Ireland Hurling Championship semi-finals, the president said the current stories around gambling "really worry" him.

He added that "for too long in Ireland we often ignore problems that are staring us in the face".

High-profiles cases recently include Galway hurler Davy Glennon, who avoided prison earlier this year for the theft of €70,000 which was used for gambling.

The forward has returned to the sport and indeed was introduced as a substitute in yesterday’s game against Clare.

The often-secret addiction has grown in sport in recent years.

Mr Higgins said: "I'm very well aware of what happens when players retire. The GAA has a scheme that is an outreach scheme that is very good. But also I am very concerned about gambling.

"If I had my way, I wouldn't have advertising of any access to gambling platforms in sport at all. I really worry when I read the cases.

"I visited the Hope House in Mayo recently who have been a great assistance to some people who have got over what is, hopefully, a terrible temporary problem.

"I think in a way we should protect our sports of keeping them free from this kind of stuff."

Adding further on his point, he said that education at an early age can help, but it will not totally solve the growing issue.

"I just think [sport] should be protected from it. There is no one being heavy about it. What you can do is through education obviously, through the school systems.

"As well as that, we do need, and it's not for me as President [to do something] as I'm no influence except to say what I think, is that the integrity of sport means having care for everyone who participates.

"Having care for everyone who participates means not exposing them when in fact they are vulnerable. How you deal with vulnerabilities is by preparing them of course.

"But you can't do everything through education. For too long in Ireland we often ignore problems that are staring us in the face," added Higgins.

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