herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Booze activist group vows to go on after another resignation

Fergus Finlay
Fergus Finlay

An alcohol awareness campaign being led by Fergus Finlay will continue its work despite a series of resignations that has rocked the group.

It emerged yesterday that a Diageo representative had withdrawn from the board of the campaign.

Ireland country director David Smith confirmed he was stepping down from the board of the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign.

There had been controversy about the campaign's independence.

However, Mr Finlay has insisted that the campaign remains strong.

He said that from the very beginning, he has asked people to suspend judgement for a little while.

"We are six or seven weeks at this.

"In that six or seven weeks we have had more conversations about out of control drinking in Ireland than in the previous 10 years," he said.

"We have opened up a debate and a conversation," Mr Finlay stated.

"Twelve thousand people have joined the campaign. Hundreds of people have attended our public meetings.

Action

"We have gathered an awful lot of data and evidence together. We now need to collate that and to put it into an action plan.

"The first moment of judgement is when you see the action plan. The second moment of judgement is when you see it beginning to be put in to place, rolled out and implemented," he said.

"We are a group of people who are determined to make a difference," Mr Finlay said on Newstalk radio.

Meanwhile, Dr Ciara Kelly who herself resigned from the campaign earlier this month, said she welcomed Mr Smith's resignation.

"The difficulty that was there was Diageo's presence actually became the dominant story and nothing that the campaign did or said really made any impact whatsoever," she commented.

Mr Smith said that he believed that when people look back in 15 years time, the drinking culture will have changed.

fdillon@herald.ie

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