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Minister: Alcohol sponsorship of sport is 'complicated'

The Minister was slow to comment on a proposed ban on drinks firms sponsoring sports events today.

Image: Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland

MINISTER LEO VARADKAR has refused to comment publicly on whether the Department of Health will proceed with a blanket ban on alcohol companies sponsoring major sporting events.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, he said the issue with alcohol advertising and sponsorship in sport is “complicated”.

Junior Minister Alex White has submitted his revised proposals to Varadkar, who said there are still discussions to be held.

He acknowledged that while Ireland has a problem with alcohol, consumption is falling, as is drinking among the young.

The Fine Gael TD supports the vast majority of White’s proposals, including the implementation of minimum pricing, further education and putting the current code of conduct on a statutory basis. He would not be drawn on whether he agrees with a ban on alcohol sponsors for big events.

The Sunday Times reports today that arts and cultural festivals will be exempt from the ban, which will come into effect from 2020.

Varadkar noted that any changes to current laws should be evidence-based, adding that France’s alcohol consumption is on the rise despite a ban on drinks sponsorship.

He said the Cabinet have been asked to make their observations on White’s proposals later this week. An Oireachtas committee has previous heard that any ban would be a “major impediment” to Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup bid.

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