Olympics chief hits out at Diageo in row over ban on drink ads

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Olympics boss Pat Hickey lashed out at the manufacturers of Guinness yesterday, saying the company had “no interest” in Ireland.

From the Irish Independent

His attack came in the wake of the drinks giant having to deny a ban on drinks sponsorship could ultimately lead to a reduction in its operations here, despite a warning from its Irish chief at the weekend.

But sports bosses warned the ban of alcohol sponsorship of sports events will result in Ireland and the provinces losing more of rugby superstars to foreign clubs.

Mr Hickey, the Olympic Council of Ireland president, hit out at Diageo in the wake of its strong opposition to the proposed ban on alcohol sponsorship.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, Mr Hickey said it wasn’t the position of a multinational company to tell elected officials what to do.

“I thought it was an absolute disgrace to read a report of an international company, Diageo, making an attack on the Irish Government and the Irish State about how they should conduct their business and investment, etc,” he said.

“This is a multinational that has no interest whatsoever in Ireland except they happen to have a product beginning with ‘G’ and they promote that in Irish pubs just to get bigger profits around the world.

“The Government should not accept that kind of carry-on from a multinational,” he added.

Mr Hickey said his views were a personal remark and the International Olympic Committee did not take alcohol sponsorship of any kind.

But Irish Sports Council (ISC) chief executive John Treacy warned that Ireland and the provinces would lose more of rugby superstars to foreign clubs, if the Government goes ahead with its plan to ban alcohol sponsorship from sport.

“Our (Sports Council) budget is €42m. If you take €30m (in sponsorship) out of the system it will make a major impact on some of these sports,” the 1984 Olympic silver medallist said at the Oireachtas committee.

And Irish Sports Council chairman Kieran Mulvey agreed, asking: “If we withdraw (drinks) sponsorship in that kind of one fell swoop then is the State going to put the replacement money into the IRFU and FAI and other sporting organisations?

“The answer is it’s not.”