The proposed ban on alcohol branded sports sponsoring is expected to be dropped. Health Minister Leo Varadkar said a ban would be desirable, “but only if other sponsorship was found and if it was practical to do so.”
Irish public broadcaster RTÉ reports that the plans are expected to be dropped following discussions between several Government Departments earlier this week ahead of a meeting that will examine proposed legislation on the issue. It was planned to incorporate the proposed ban in the Public Health Alcohol Bill which is due to be published later this year and will regulate the pricing and advertising of alcohol.
According to The Irish Times the ban is supported by both the ministers of Health and Sport, but was vetoed by by Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe and his junior minister, Michael Ring.
Speaking on RTÉ, Health Minister Varadkar said new legislation aiming to reduce alcohol consumption is still a priority for his department. The issue of whether alcohol companies should be allowed to continue sponsoring sports is still being debated in Government, according to Varadkar.
A Cabinet Sub-Committee is to discuss such a ban at a meeting on Monday the 26th of January.
While it seems that the ban on alcohol branded sponsorship of sports and cultural events will not be realized, another proposal seems to be going through: The current system of voluntary rules around sports sponsorship will be given legal backing. Measures in the code of conduct which will be placed on a statutory footing include banning alcohol sponsorship of any individuals, teams or competitions where the participants are under 18; or where more than a quarter of their audience, either attending live events or watching on television, are under 18.
The Irish debate about banning alcohol sponsorship has been dragging on since early 2012 when junior health minister Roisin Shortall dedicated herself to cutting the tie between sport and alcohol promotion. In October of that year Shortall resigned after clashing with other ministers, implying that decisions on health infrastructure and staffing are driven by other concerns then public health. In reaction to the news this week Miss Shortall said:
“At a time when the Chief Medical Officer, the Royal College of Surgeons and the World Health Organisation are calling for a ban it shows an incredible lack of political leadership not to support it.”