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Home > 2. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he agrees that alcohol sponsorship has no place in sport; his further views on whether legislation must be brought in to remove any option open to sporting organisations regarding alcohol sponsorship; his plans to introduce such legislation. [2549/06]

[Oireachtas] 2. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he agrees that alcohol sponsorship has no place in sport; his further views on whether legislation must be brought in to remove any option open to sporting organisations regarding alcohol sponsorship; his plans to introduce such legislation. [2549/06]. (26 Jan 2006)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2006/01/26/00011...


Mr. O’Donoghue: On 22 September 2004, the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children launched the second report of the strategic task force on alcohol, which included representatives of my Department and the Irish Sports Council. The report recommends that national sporting bodies, with high youth participation, develop a proactive strategy to find an alternative to alcohol sponsorship. I support this recommendation, which is in keeping with the provisions of the Irish Sports Council’s Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport in Ireland, to which national governing bodies of sport have subscribed. The development of such a strategy is a matter for the individual national governing bodies of sport. This derives from the recognition that the independence and autonomy of sports organisations, their affiliates and individual clubs, has remained a fundamental principle underpinning successive Governments’ support for Irish sport. In any debate on issues arising in connection with the sponsorship of sport, it is important to retain perspective. Governing bodies and clubs across the spectrum of sports freely acknowledge that sponsorship from the business and commercial sectors provides much needed financial, material and promotional support. This has the effect of freeing up other resources which can then be invested in the development of the sport, increased participation and improved facilities. I agree, nevertheless, that where alcohol is concerned, great care must be taken by sports organisations to ensure the nature and extent of any sponsorship is proportionate and appropriate to the environment in which sporting activities take place. This is particularly important when it comes to assessing the effect such sponsorship could have on children and young people involved in sport. I am pleased that the three major field sports, the GAA, FAI and IRFU, have moved away from sponsorship by alcohol interests in so far as it relates to their underage activities and competitions. The GAA, in particular, acting in response to its alcohol task force, has recently appointed a full-time alcohol abuse officer, who is developing a strategy in regard to alcohol for the association. Legislation to prevent sport organisations from availing of sponsorship from alcohol interests is neither necessary nor appropriate. I prefer instead to exhort all governing bodies to ensure restraint and good judgment are applied in regard to such sponsorship at all levels of their organisations. In this regard, the recent initiative taken by the GAA serves as an example of a mature and considered response to concerns articulated by its membership. It provides a model which could be followed by other governing bodies in the interests of both sports people and the health and welfare of the wider population.

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