Bishops call for ban on alcohol sponsorships for all youth events

Ralph Riegel

IRISH bishops have called for a ban on alcohol sponsorship for all youth events ranging from sport to art and music.

Bishop Eamon Walsh warned it was now time for Ireland to say "enough is enough" in relation to alcohol addiction and the promotion of alcohol to young people.

But he acknowledged that given major alcohol sponsorships of rugby, GAA and soccer events in Ireland "a phased withdrawal" would obviously have to be implemented.

Irish bishops are now to launch a public awareness campaign in a bid to achieve a political consensus for such an alcohol-free youth marketing policy.

Dr Walsh, speaking as he launched a prayer book in Dublin for those suffering from addiction, said there wasn't a family in Ireland that hadn't been impacted in some way by alcohol, drug or gambling addiction.

Dr Walsh said he welcomed the acknowledgment from Primary Care Minister Alex White that "the biggest concern is (alcohol) marketing that is visible to children and young people."

"What can we do? We can join forces and say enough is enough. The time has come for (Irish) society to no longer stand idly by allowing conditions and practices continue which expose our young people to a life of unnecessary misuse or drugs or alcohol," he told the Irish Independent.

Dr Walsh said that, despite the claims of the powerful drinks lobby, the reality was that there were other sponsors who could fill the sports marketing gap.

"Society needs to find imaginative ways of protecting children from being used as drinks advertisements on sports jerseys," he added.