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Children's Minister rules out junk food ban in schools

Frances Fitzgerald said that schools should “move in the direction” of health foods but admitted that some schools have vending machine contracts in place.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

CHILDREN’S MINISTER FRANCES Fitzgerald says it’s “not a matter of banning” junk food in schools after reports that a third of secondary schools are selling sweets and fizzy drinks.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin today, the minister said that she saw the promotion of healthy food as a priority within the education system but added that there are industry considerations that have to be acknowledged.

Her comments follow a report in The Sunday Times at the weekend which claimed that the Department of Education was reluctant to ban vending machines in school because of the revenue they raise.

“Clearly some schools have entered into contracts with various firms and so the contents of these machines are what they are,” she said. “But obviously I would be saying to schools that we should be of moving in the direction of healthy food in schools.”

“I don’t think it’s a question of banning but more of moving in that direction of healthy food,” she added.

The minister was also asked about reports from the UK that a 29-year-old man died in an incident that is being linked to neknominations.

South Wales police say they are investigating the death of the man in Rumney in the early hours of yesterday with a spokesperson for the force saying that they have received information about the controversial drinking game.

Fitzgerald again reiterated that she encouraged young people in particular to refrain from taking part.

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“It’s very clear that this is a game that people might have thought when it started out that it was innocent but actually has potentially lethal consequences,” shes said.

“Young people have to be alert to the dangers of these social crazes really.”

Read: Ireland is eating more fast food as waistlines continue to grow…and grow >

Read: 31 per cent of teens eat “a lot” of junk food >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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