Oh, the joys of the Freedom of Information Act. It only took six months to get my response from the Department of Health. It’s supposed to take 20 days apparently. And most of the juicier stuff was refused, thanks to a blanket ban on anything that goes – or might go – to the Government.
But there were a few nuggets in what I got. The first gave a flavour of the extent to which certain government departments lobbied a Government expert group on alcohol against plans to end sponsorship of sports and other large public events by the drinks industry. See http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/departments-lobbied-against-plans-to-end-sport-sponsorship-by-drink-firms-210207.html
Sponsorship is the biggest stickler in the Government’s forthcoming ‘action plan’ on alcohol. That plan was supposed to be published before the end of the summer, then by September. Now, it’s before the end of the year. That will come a full three years after the Government committee first sat to address this issue. Into the mix, came the recent, and sudden, resignation of Roisin Shortall, the minister of state who personally – and passionately – drove the alcohol strategy.
The next nugget in the FoI material contained the views of different Government departments towards an alcohol awareness association funded by the drinks’ industry. One dept said it and a body representing drinks’ suppliers and manufacturers tried to ‘undermine’ the final report of the committee. Another dept heaped praise on the awareness group.
The third story in today’s Irish Examiner is the response from the two drinks’ industry groups.