Sport cannot be intimately linked to alcohol, says Minister

Government has to act against drinks sponsorship of sport, says Minister of State

Responding to criticism from the Irish Rugby Football Union that the ban would affect the funding of sporting events, Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello said the Government had to break the link between sport and alcohol promotion. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Responding to criticism from the Irish Rugby Football Union that the ban would affect the funding of sporting events, Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello said the Government had to break the link between sport and alcohol promotion. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

New legislation banning drink sponsorship of sporting events was required because sport cannot be “so intimately related to drinking”, Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello has said.

Responding to criticism from the Irish Rugby Football Union that the ban would affect the funding of sporting events, Mr Costello said the Government had to break the link between sport and alcohol promotion.

“Sport is about youth, by and large; it is about youth activities,” said Mr Costello on a two-day visit to the United Nations in New York.

“That early identification of alcohol with sport is a damaging factor. I think it has to be removed. Obviously it can’t be done overnight – it has to be phased out.”

Legislative proposals being circulated by Mr Costello’s Labour Party colleague, Minister of State Alex White, would ban drink sponsorship of large sporting events by 2020 and end new sponsorship contracts from 2016.

The Government is not proposing a similar ban on arts and cultural events.

“There isn’t the same direct relationship in various cultural activities,” said Mr Costello, though he added that the Government would come back to this area if it had to be looked at again.

In response to the Papal Nuncio’s comments on Sunday that Irish people must never be afraid to allow their faith shape political choices, Mr Costello said the church was entitled to make its views heard.

The Government, however, had to introduce the abortion legislation to respond to how people had voted in referendums to protect the life of the mother.

“The Government would be negligent not to do so – to legislate and provide the clarification and the rules and regulations around the constitutional provision,” he said.

Including a provision for abortion on grounds of suicide was “part and parcel” of that constitutional imperative that the Government had to deal with in the legislation, he said.

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