Tuesday 20 March 2018

'Put your money where your mouth is' - Dr Ciara Kelly calls on Diageo to withdraw from controversial anti-drinking campaign

TV doctor says funding from drinks giant is the"Achilles heel" of the campaign

TV doctor Ciara Kelly
TV doctor Ciara Kelly
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Dr Ciara Kelly has spoken out for the first time following her shock departure from the board of the STOP Out-of-Control drinking campaign.

"I had concerns before joining the board and while I was on the board," she said on Claire Byrne Live tonight.

The resident doctor with RTE’s Operation Transformation made the decision to leave the board earlier this month, citing "time constraints"

"I did leave because of time pressures. I work probably more than I should do. And I have four kids so I have a lot of family commitments," she said on the RTE current affairs show.

However, Dr Kelly, who has regularly spoken publically on the culture of problem drinking in Ireland, said she "voiced my scepticism of the Diageo campaign but I went with it".

Read more: Dr Ciara Kelly quits anti-alcohol campaign 'due to time constraints'

The anti-alcohol campaign has been recently criticised as “a smokescreen” with more than 50 individuals and organisations signing an open letter rejecting claims the initiative is truly independent.

Among the opponents are the National Youth Council of Ireland, Professor John Crown, comedian Des Bishop, folk singer Christy Moore, the Union of Students in Ireland, and former GAA president Dr Mick Loftus.

They say there is an "inherent conflict" between the commercial interests of the alcohol industry, and its involvement in initiatives to tackle over consumption.

Read more: Alcohol giants are part of the problem - not the solution

While Dr Kelly said she "would like to think [the campaign] could be saved", she maintains that "Diageo's funding has been the Achilles heel of the campaign from the beginning".

By giving their funding to the campaign and walking away, the TV doctor believes "that would really put their money where their mouth is."

In a statement sent to Claire Byrne Live, drinks giant Diageo says that they are fully committed to the STOP Out-of-Control drinking campaign but did not comment when asked if they would be prepared to walk away from the campaign.

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