GP resigns from Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign

Dr Ciara Kelly cites ‘time constraints’ on leaving campaign funded by Diageo

A main member of a new campaign against harmful drinking has resigned.

Dr Ciara Kelly, a GP and commentator, has stepped down from the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign three weeks after it was unveiled, "due to time constraints".

The campaign, chaired by Fergus Finlay, chief executive of children's charity Barnardos, was engulfed in controversy almost as soon as it began due to the involvement of drinks multinational, Diageo.

Mr Finlay said early on that, although he was at first sceptical of the approach by Diageo to fund the campaign, he accepted the company's bone fides.


He said Diageo had a “genuine concern” about out-of-control drinking.

"It's the largest drinks company in Ireland offering to fund a campaign that could affect their sales. But we've accepted it's in good faith," said Mr Finlay.

However a number of high-profile campaigners on children’s welfare were immediately critical of his stance.

Senator Jillian van Turnhout, a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, said people had had enough of "vested interests and this way of doing things".

She said public-health expertise and evidence must be at the heart of any campaign to reduce harmful alcohol consumption.

“This smokescreen initiative uses the good intentions and reputations of respected organisations and celebrities to try and appear credible.”

On Thursday she gave her support to a new group of health professionals and NGOs, the Alcohol Health Alliance, established to support Government plans including a minimum unit price for alcohol – something the drinks industry is against.

Ruairí McKiernan, founder of the youth mental-health website,, said the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign would not work.

Senator and Prof John Crown said the involvement of the drinks industry in any campaign to reduce drinking was not credible.

In a statement issued on Thursday the campaign said: “Owing to time constraints Dr Ciara Kelly is no longer on the board of the campaign to Stop Out-of-Control drinking. She remains a strong supporter of the campaign and encourages others to get involved at and help shape Ireland’s plan to stop out-of-control drinking.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times