Ban alcohol sponsorship for sports, say bishops
THE Catholic bishops are backing plans for curbs on alcohol advertising and sponsorship in sport.
Speaking in Dundalk, the vice chair of the Irish Bishops' Drugs Initiative, Bishop Eamonn Walsh, urged Irish society to support new proposals on alcohol policy that Primary Care Minister Alex White is to bring to the Cabinet next week.
He welcomed Mr White's statement on Monday regarding the marketing of alcohol.
The time has come, Bishop Walsh warned, for Irish society to stop standing idly by and allowing conditions that expose young people to drugs and alcohol misuse to continue.
Asking what could be done, he responded: "We can join forces and say enough is enough!"
The bishop also suggested that society needed to find imaginative ways of protecting children from being used as drinks advertisements on sports jerseys.
Bishop Walsh was at Dundalk Institute of Technology to launch a pocketbook of prayers and reflections from the Irish Bishops' Drugs Initiative.
He suggested that only strong public determination to address alcohol abuse would enable legislators "to tackle the many vested interests" that gain from corporate sponsorship in sport.
Mr White's proposals need to address minimum pricing for alcohol products and curb the link between sport and alcohol advertising and sponsorship, he said.
The launch comes ahead of Temperance Sunday this weekend, which precedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, when many people give up alcohol for six weeks.
Every night 2,000 beds in Irish acute hospitals are occupied due to alcohol-related illnesses.
The Irish Bishops' Drugs Initiative works in over 250 parishes through 1,000 volunteers to assist communities to address the challenges of alcohol/drug misuse.
In 2007, alcohol-related problems in Ireland were estimated to cost €3.7bn, according to Alcohol Action Ireland.