Sports bodies oppose alcohol sponsorship ban

  • Post category:News
From The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Political Correspondent

Ireland’s three main sports organisations are all opposed to a ban on alcohol sponsorship for major sporting events, an Oireachtas Committee has been told.

The heads of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the Irish Rugby Football Association and the Football Association of Ireland told the all-party Committee on Transport and Communication this morning that there was no evidence that it had a positive effect on reducing alcohol misuse in society.

Páraic Duffy of the GAA, Philip Browne of the IRFU and John Delaney appeared before the committee to respond to proposals being considered by Minister of State for Health Alex White to prevent alcohol companies being allowed to sponsor major sporting events.

Mmbers of the committee, chaired by Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes, said they would require the overall figure of how much alcohol sponsorship was worth to the sports organisations to allow them fully consider the issue.

Because of commercial sensitivities that information was only partially available today. Mr Browne said that alcohol related sponsorship was worth a total of € 9 million to the IRFU while Mr Delaney said it was worth a significant portion of the FAI’s overall sponsorship revenue of € 6m. Mr Duffy said alcohol sponsorship was a small amount of the GAA’s overall revenue.

There were mixed responses from members of the committee with most indicating they did not support an outright ban.

Labour TD Eamon Maloney said he fully supported a ban while his colleague Ann Phelan pointed out the paradox of sports organisations promoting anti-alcohol measures while still relying on alcohol sponsorship for revenue.

“Alcohol is the national drug. We have a difficulty saying it and owning up to it,” Mr Maloney said.

In his submission to the committee, Mr Duffy said the GAA accepted “that there are issues around the misuse of alcohol, particularly by young people. And that these issues must be addressed.”

“We believe that there is any hard evidence to demonstrate that a ban on sports sponsorship will have any impact in terms of reducing the misuse of alcohol,” he said.

He described the national and ambitious alcohol and substance abuse prevention programme in operation within the GAA since 2006, which employs three people full-time and is operated in conjunction with the HSE.

“It is an approach based around education and it uses a settings-based educational and intervention programme.”

He also described other initiatives within the organisation including ‘Off the Booze and Off the Ball’ which encourages members to abstain from alcohol for a month.