DIAGEO has come under fire from a leading child psychologist ahead of the increasingly-controversial Arthur’s Day celebrations.
Dr Bobby Smyth, a member of Alcohol Action Ireland has slammed the organisation for hosting an event "entirely devoted to the promotion of alcohol".
He also claimed Diageo was targeting a young demographic of 15 to 25 year olds in their ad promotion for the day and said "the need for a day entirely devoted to the promotion of an alcoholic brand is totally uncalled for", adding people "don't need any more encouragement to drink."
Diageo denied that it targets a younger demographic in promoting the event, with marketing director Tanya Clarke insisting the aim of the day was to "positively promote great Irish talent and musical acts."
"We don't encourage anyone to come out and drink irresponsibly," she said.
However, when pressed on RTE Radio as to whether Diageo Ireland would accept any social responsibility for the negative aspects of the day - excess drinking, street riots, extra pressure on ambulance services and Gardai - she said that "86pc of consumers wanted Arthur's Day to happen again this year."
Dr Smith said that Ireland needed to take a fresh perspective on its stance with alcohol and break from company sponsorship: "What we need to do is to rebalance our relationships with alcohol and put breaks on our sponsorship deals promoting alcohol brands and companies."
Tanya Clarke insisted the aim was not to ensure excess drinking, but to see that the day went off as safely and as smoothly as possible while "positively promoting our fantastic pub culture and talented musical acts." She said the company had no plans to discontinue the day, but that they were liaising with local authorities to make sure that everyone would be safe on the day.
Arthur's Day is now in its fifth year and takes place this Thursday, with various events taking place around the country.
Some musicians including Christy Moore have criticised the event, with Moore calling it an alcoholiday.