Teenagers are being used as "beer mats" by giant drinks firms through their sponsorship of GAA, rugby and soccer, a bishop has claimed.
Dr Eamonn Walsh has demanded a phased winding down of all major alcohol marketing of youth events as he drew a direct link with spiralling addiction rates in Irish society.
Dr Walsh, the auxiliary bishop of Dublin, said he is appalled to see youngsters playing sports with jerseys emblazoned with beer logos.
"They are being effectively used as beer mats to promote it," he warned.
Dr Walsh, who is vice chair of the Irish Bishops Drugs Initiative (IBDI), backed the positions on alcohol marketing regulation adopted by Primary Care Minister Alex White and former minister Roisin Shortall.
He also paid tribute to comedian Des Bishop for his efforts to highlight Ireland's destructive relationship with alcohol.
But the bishops are now on a collision course with Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who this week disputed the link between alcohol advertising and underage drinking.
Mr Varadkar also said drinks advertising in Irish sport was here to stay, saying that it is worth €30m a year compared to the Irish Sports Council's total budget of €40m.
But Dr Walsh warned it was time for Ireland to say "enough is enough" in relation to alcohol addiction.
He acknowledged that given major alcohol sponsorships of rugby, GAA and soccer events in Ireland, "a phased withdrawal" would obviously have to be implemented.
Source: Ralph Riegel, Irish Independent, 22/02/13