Government won’t be held to ransom by drinks companies

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Diageo says it’s spent €160m on new brewing centre and banning sports sponsorship is a flawed plan

From Newstalk

Minister Phil Hogan has hit back at Diageo for its criticism of plans to ban drinks companies from sponsoring sporting events.

Phil Hogan says the Government will continue to discuss all views on alcohol sponsorship – and that the proposals will be brought to the Cabinet table in the coming weeks.

Earlier this week, Diageo’s Corporate Relations Director for Western Europe, Peter O’Brien, warned that attracting investment to Ireland would be ‘difficult’ in a ‘very anti-alcohol’ environment – and that Guinness and Baileys did not have to be made here.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan says Diageo is already ‘consolidating’ its Irish operations – and the Government won’t be threatened into changing its policies.

Diageo has issued a statement this afternoon, it says:

“Diageo is absolutely committed to Ireland, and has shown this through its investment of nearly €160-million in a new brewing centre of excellence, which is currently under construction, and which will be completed and fully operational next year. Similarly we also made a significant commitment to the South east with last week’s announcement of a €3-million Smithwicks visitors’ centre for Kilkenny.

“Our company wants to be able to continue with further investments in the future, but to do so requires a sustainable environment in which to promote our Irish-manufactured products responsibly.

“We want to work with Government to find the effective solutions to reduce alcohol misuse further, rather than some of the measures currently under consideration, which won’t work but will damage Irish brands and an important sector for the economy.”

Meanwhile, Health minister James Reilly says he firmly believes sponsorship of sport should be separated from alcohol.

Minister Reilly says the world would not end if the sponsorship of sporting events by alcohol companies was terminated.

Follow this link to listen to what Minister Hogan and Minister Reilly had to say.