Arts and leisure thrive without alcohol industry says bishop

Arts and leisure thrive without alcohol industry says bishop Bishop Eamonn Walsh

A Catholic Bishop has railed against alcohol lobbyist tactics which threaten the arts and leisure industry in reaction to a new alcohol bill that is now priority legislation in the Dáil, saying sports thrive regardless of their sponsorship.

Bishop Eamonn Walsh, vice chair of the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative, said he had to admire the alcohol industry for their “tenacious determination to remain centre stage in the public eye and market place”.

“Less admirable is their persistent raising of fears that without them the world of leisure and the arts would collapse without their sponsorship and advertising. Yet so many major sports are thriving without them,” he said.

This comes as the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was identified as priority legislation by cabinet this autumn. If passed unaltered the Bill will change the minimum unit pricing – making drinks with high alcohol content more expensive, it will change health labelling, introduce the separation of alcohol from other products in shops, and there will be more regulation in relation to the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances.


There are also regulations that will severely affect the industry’s advertisements, as they will not be allowed to have storylines or show scenes with people, animals or locations. The regulation will also affect sponsorship of events.

Bishop Walsh said they are like a “water leak” that constantly seeks new ways in. “The latest is their own “backdoor” into the all-Ireland winning team’s celebrations with customised winning team labels on their produce,” he said.

“You have to be up early for the drinks industry who are so well-resourced that they can afford to take little sleep as they continuously glamorise alcohol in a way that easily induces its misuse wrecking so many homes and individual lives.”