Speaking Out: GAA's Paraic Duffy. INPHO/James Crombie

GAA voice opposition to proposed alcohol sponsorship legislation

The association’s Director-General Paraic Duffy is adamant that education is the way to tackle the problem.

GAA DIRECTOR-GENERAL Paraic Duffy has rejected claims that there is a link between alcohol sponsorship in sport and a drink problem in Ireland.

Duffy spoke, along with IRFU chief executive Philip Browne and his FAI counterpart John Delaney, before the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications on Wednesday on the issue.

The implications of possible Government legislation which would ban alcohol sponsorship were discussed.

Speaking yesterday at Croke Park, Duffy insisted that there is no evidence to prove the link.

“If someone can produce the evidence that there’s a link between alcohol sponsorship in sport and a drinks problem in Ireland, then absolutely we’ll look at it different. But the evidence just isn’t there.

“At the moment you’d be taking money out of sport. The alcohol companies presumably will invest some place else and there is no evidence to suggest that it will make the slightest bit of difference.

“We’ve only one major alcohol sponsor, Guinness, so for us it’s probably not as big an issue as other bodies. But in terms of the local teams, very often, it’s the local bar and restaurant, the local hotel.”

Duffy called on the Government to work with the sporting bodies on education programmes to tackle the subject. The GAA’s own initiative, ASAP (Alchohol & Substance Abuse Programme), currently receives funding from the HSE.

“The point the GAA were making that we believe the way forward is through education. If the government would partner the sporting bodies, and invest with the sporting bodies, we can actually make a difference.

“In fairness, we have people employed here, funded by the HSE in that regard. We think it’s working very well.

“We’ve been involved in this since 2006. We have Colin Regan, the former Leitrim footballer, heading up that unit. I honestly believe this is the way to go.”

Duffy does not believe it is certain that the legislation will be rubber-stamped.

“I think the process on Wednesday was looking for our views. I don’t think it’s inevitable. Clearly the government has to make a decision. But I don’t think it’s inevitable, no.”

There is no replacement for alcohol sponsorship, warn sports chiefs

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