Third group steps down from Diageo alcohol campaign

Speculation is mounting that a third high-profile organisation has resigned from the board of the controversial Diageo-funded alcohol awareness campaign.

St Patrick’s Mental Health Services are understood to have withdrawn from the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign in recent days.

The news follows the earlier resignations of Dr Ciara Kelly and Krystian Fikert of mental health care organisation MyMind from the board.

Independent senator and former Children’s Rights Alliance chief executive Jillian van Turnhout told the Seanad that it had been confirmed to her that the body had withdrawn its support from the campaign.

“We firstly had Dr Ciara Kelly; secondly over the last week or 10 days we saw that MyMind as an organisation has withdrawn from the campaign; and now, I have had confirmed that St Patrick’s Mental Health Services has withdrawn from the campaign and have withdrawn all their support to the campaign,” she said.

St Patrick’s Mental Health Service declined to comment on the reports. However, its chief executive Paul Gilligan is still listed on the campaign website as a member of the board. A request for comment from the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign was also not returned.

Earlier this month, MyMind said that due to resource restraints, it is no longer possible for a representative of the group to sit on the board.

Speaking on RTÉ television on Monday, Dr Kelly said she “had concerns before joining the board” but was leaving due to “time constraints”.

The campaign has been widely criticised since its inception amidst claims it is a “smokescreen” to take the political focus away from wider legal reforms around minimum pricing, marketing, alcohol promotion and alcohol availability.

The campaign has said that while the initiative was set up and funded by Diageo, all but one of its board members are entirely independent.

Earlier this month, controversy around the campaign erupted over a campaign advert showing a girl which the Rape Crisis Network claimed “blames victims of rape”— a view the initiative said was misinterpreted.


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