Sports chiefs warn against alcohol sponsorship ban

Ireland’s ability to compete on the international sporting stage will be “destroyed” if the Government proceeds with plans to ban alcohol companies from sponsoring major sporting events.

Sports chiefs warn against alcohol sponsorship ban

So said Kieran Mulvey, chairman of the Irish Sports Council, at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications yesterday while stressing that he was speaking in a personal capacity.

The same committee is currently assembling a report based on reported plans by Junior Minister Alex White and the Department of Health to phase out all links between high-profile sporting events and alcohol brands by 2020.

Mulvey preached caution.

“There has to be a mature debate,” he explained. “Ireland does not have the budgets of the bigger nations. It would destroy some of our international sports. I am not being overly dramatic about it.”

Mulvey argued the issue of alcohol abuse went far deeper than sports sponsorship and asked if the state is prepared to make up for the income lost if such legislation is introduced.

“The answer is it is not,” he said.

John Treacy, chief executive of the Irish Sports Council, concurred and insisted the pricing of alcohol, its widespread availability and promotion in colleges were far more pressing matters.

The former Olympic silver medallist warned the IRFU would be hit particularly badly, pointing out the union would no longer be in a financial position to keep its professional players at home.

Both Treacy and Pat Hickey, the president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, also rejected a suggestion made by Senator Eamonn Coghlan that the Irish Olympic team had under-performed at the London Games last year.

Hickey said: “205 countries took part in London and Ireland finished in 41st place and I am often told by my peers abroad that they are astounded by the success we achieve for a country with such a small population.”

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