SUPERMAC'S boss Pat McDonagh has criticised government proposals to place an exclusion zone for new fast-food outlets around schools and playgrounds – insisting any possible ban should extend to pubs and sweet shops.
The businessman warned that if fast-food outlets were to be banned from opening 1.5km from schools, playgrounds and youth sports facilities, then other businesses including bars, sweet shops and even cafes should also be banned.
Stating that he couldn't understand the reasoning behind the proposed ban, Mr McDonagh said: "If you continue on that train of thought then after another while they'll have to ban confectionery shops from the vicinities of schools and they'll have to obviously ban pubs from the vicinities of schools and even patisseries or coffee shops because if people indulge in too much of whatever it is, then is that the next move to ban all these things from the vicinity of schools?"
He criticised the proposal as government "spin", adding that it was "distracting people's attention from the real issues" affecting the country including crime and drug use.
"I think in a way fast food is an easy target for the Government, there are a lot of bigger issues out there that need to be dealt with and need to be dealt with urgently," he told Galway Bay fm.
Mr McDonagh claimed that many schools now have their own canteens which may be serving food which is just as calorie-laden as fast food.
"In a lot of cases especially in secondary schools they all have their own canteen and therefore they're not allowed out at lunchtime in a lot of cases. [This proposal] doesn't make sense. In a lot of cases sandwiches are equally as calorie driving as maybe the quick service foods," he said.
Mr McDonagh also criticised the perception of fast food, questioning what the name meant.
"As far as I'm concerned it's our traditional diet, it's potatoes, it's meat, it's poultry and it's bread. So the meat is 100pc beef, the chicken in the snackbox is 100pc Irish chicken, it's non-processed so I don't know what the issues are," he added.
A spokesperson for McDonald's would not comment.
The proposals are now being considered by the Government. National guidelines which will dictate planning for the next 10 years are at the consultation stage with the Government due to sign off on them in the coming months.