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Dáil Question on use of alcohol sponsorship by sporting organisations

Dáil Question No. 44

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views regarding the use of alcohol sponsorship by sporting organisations; his views on whether the phasing out of this sponsorship will have a negative impact on sporting organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 18th October, 2012.

Ref No: 44947/12

Answered by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar

REPLY

I fully support the central aim of the National Substance Misuse Strategy in reducing the level of alcohol consumption and binge drinking in Ireland. However, I also recognise that moderate and responsible alcohol consumption is not harmful and that there is no case for de normalising alcohol consumption it in the way that was appropriate for tobacco. Any measures introduced should be evidence based, effective and proportionate, and should have regard to the potential downsides that may occur.

A legislative ban on sponsorship would have negative consequences for sport and tourism.  There are huge economic, social and health benefits accruing from sport.  From a health perspective alone, there are clearly significant benefits for individuals and for our health system in maintaining and increasing participation levels in sport. One of the goals of my Department is to contribute to a healthier and more active society by promoting sports participation.  However, it is important that funding is available to sports organisations to ensure that sport is maintained at grassroots level so that as many people as possible can participate.

Also, it is my view that sport plays an important role in diverting young people away from alcohol. The financial support provided through sponsorship is integral to the availability of sport at grassroots level and I am concerned that placing constraints on the sporting organisations by eliminating the alcohol industry as a source of sponsorship will have a negative impact on the development and availability of sport, particularly in the current economic climate.

Furthermore, it must be recognised that many of the major sporting events in which Irish teams compete are international events and are directly or indirectly broadcast into the state by foreign broadcasters. Were Ireland to ban alcohol sponsorship, the only effect would be to exclude the Irish sporting organisation from sponsorship money while the advertising occurred anyway. I also note that Britain, having recognised the failure of the ‘Loi Evin’ in France to reduce alcohol consumption by young people, decided not to ban alcohol sponsorship of sport for evidence based reasons.

My Department has engaged with the Department of Health with regard to proposals which that Department is bringing forward.