Funds source sought to end drinks sponsorship

Alcohol sponsorship of major sports events will be phased out, but not until alternative sources of funding for sporting organisations are found, ministers have agreed.

Nor has a date or time period been agreed on the issue of banning drink companies sponsoring sporting events, Government sources said yesterday.

Speaking in Donegal, Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirm-ed that ministers were presented with details from one of the health ministers about measures to tackle excessive drinking.

He said: “We recognise this is a complex issue. There is still a great deal more work to be done. We did not put any dates on this because there’s a great deal more to be considered.”

Agreement on a package of measures to eventually ban sports sponsorship by alcohol companies was reached at a Cabinet sub-committee meeting last Monday. Other measures which look set to be agreed include a ban on below-cost selling of drinks and restrictions on drinks advertising.

Despite reports yesterday that 2020 is when sponsorship must cease completely, sources close to ministers said nothing was set in stone until alternative funding sources were identified.

The Government’s long-awaited action plan on alcohol sponsorship had been expected to come before Cabinet before the summer break. Ministers, following months of wrangling, are instead likely to agree to a package of measures in September.

Ministers last week discussed alternatives for funding, which could include a special tax on alcohol or grants from the exchequer for sporting groups. One option being considered is a “social responsibility levy”, which could be sourced as an extra tax from drink.

Ministers have considered an option used in Australia, which sources funds from the extra tax on drinks. However, such an option is likely to be strongly opposed by drink companies.

Alcohol sponsorship forms a major source of funds for sporting groups. The IRFU says drink sponsorship generates €9m a year. There have also been warnings that any ban on sponsorship of events could damage Ireland’s hopes of hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Health Minister James Reilly and Alex White, the junior health minister, are pushing for a ban on drinks companies while Sports Minister Leo Varadkar, supported by Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, is opposed to the measure without alternative sources of funding.

A source close to the ministers opposing the ban last night said: “It’s been made absolutely clear that there can be no consideration of a ban until such time as alternative funding has been identified and made available to sporting organisations.”

More on this topic

Former C&C boss paid almost €3m in his final year, after €700,000 termination paymentFormer C&C boss paid almost €3m in his final year, after €700,000 termination payment

Brexit poses significant threat to Ireland’s all-island drinks industry - ABFIBrexit poses significant threat to Ireland’s all-island drinks industry - ABFI

Brexit and Alcohol Bill may be perfect storm which costs 40,000 jobs, say drink industryBrexit and Alcohol Bill may be perfect storm which costs 40,000 jobs, say drink industry


On June 26, we sat outside the first bar to open here since lockdown began on March 15. There are only two bars in the valley. Cafes serve drinks, but these are bar-bars, the kind that stay open after midnight.Damien Enright: Fruit trees are laden with their bounty as we prepare to leave

In October 1986, 52 mute swans, living peacefully on the Tolka in Dublin, were drenched in diesel oil accidentally released into the river. Swan-catchers went into action; only one bird died before they reached it.Richard Collins: Human crisis will offer chance for wild animal research

It's a typically Irish summer’s day of sunshine and occasional showers. Travel restrictions have been eased again and we venture forth to one of nature’s gems, Gougane Barra, deep in the mountains of West Cork.Donal Hickey: Gougane Barra has peace and wildness

When the ferryman pulls away from the pier and the salty spray of the sea hits your face the feeling of release from the mainland is deeply pleasurable. Your island awaits. Whether for a day trip or a holiday, the lure of the islands is as magnetic as ever.The Islands of Ireland: The lure of the less-visited

More From The Irish Examiner