Ban on alcohol sponsorship 'not practical'
MINISTER for Sport Leo Varadkar yesterday waded into the row over banning alcohol sponsorship in sport, claiming it was not "practical" to enforce a ban "in the foreseeable future".
In an interview with 'Checkout Magazine', Mr Varadkar said that while he favoured reducing or removing alcohol-related sponsorship "as a very long-term objective", it would have a "negative impact" on a number of organisations and young people.
His comments run in stark contrast to minister of state for health Roisin Shortall, who said a fortnight ago she was "committed to phasing it out over a reasonable period of time".
"I don't believe it is practical in the foreseeable future. It would have a negative impact on the finances of sporting organisations, and result in fewer people playing sport," he said.
"It would make our participation in tournaments like the Heineken Cup very difficult, and Ireland would not be able to host the tournament's final next year," he added.
In France, the Heineken Cup is referred to as the "H Cup" because of regulations governing the broadcasting of alcohol sponsorship. Since the first final in 1996, France has hosted three finals, fewer than England and Wales.
Mr Varadkar also queried if a ban here would make any difference without support from other jurisdictions.
"We also need to bear in mind that Ireland is only a small part of a bigger English language and European media market.
"We can ban advertising and sponsorship on RTE and TV3 but we cannot stop Sky Sports and BBC from beaming it in, not to mention the internet.
"A rigorously enforced proper code of conduct might achieve more.
"Recommendations that sponsorship from the drinks industry be terminated by 2016, and the other recommendations . . . need to be discussed at Cabinet level. No Government decision has been made to date."