Van Turnhout urges end to RSA links with drinks industry

Independent Senator calls for authority to follow example of Department of Education

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Minister should also follow the example of the HSE which last year introduced a policy ceasing all links with the drinks industry. Photograph: The Irish Times

Senator Jillian van Turnhout: Minister should also follow the example of the HSE which last year introduced a policy ceasing all links with the drinks industry. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

The Road Safety Authority should end its relationship with the drinks industry because it is “absurd” to be linked with the alcohol sector on such an issue, the Seanad has heard.

Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout called on Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe to talk to the authority and ask it to end its relationship with the drinks industry, whose involvement includes road safety advertising.

The Taoiseach’s nominee was speaking in the wake of the decision by Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan to write to schools “telling them to cease allowing the drinks industry or Drinkaware to come into our schools”.

Ms van Turnhout welcomed the Minister’s plan to ask schools not to engage with or promote teaching material about responsible drinking, developed by Drinkaware.

Ms O’Sullivan’s department will issue a circular to schools setting out her position and the department would not engage with industry-sponsored activity.

It promotes responsible drinking but the Senator said it was “100 per cent funded by the drinks industry and is the drinks industry in costume”.

Unit pricing

Calling for Mr Donohoe to meet the Road Safety Authority about ending its links with the drinks industry Ms van Turnhout said there was no place for the sector “to be using the bodies of the State to say it is doing their work while on the other hand blocking the essential work on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill”, currently before the Seanad.

The legislation includes the introduction of minimum unit pricing as well as restrictions on the marketing and advertising on alcohol.

Ms van Turnhout said the Minister should also follow the example of the HSE which last year introduced a policy ceasing all links with the drinks industry.

“It has a role which is to make money for its shareholders and it should go ahead and do that but it should not be involved in public health or public awareness campaigns as it has no role to play in these.”