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Saturday 24 August 2019

Alcohol awareness campaigner Finlay praises Diageo decision

STOP chairman Fergus Finlay. Photo: Collins Photo Agency
STOP chairman Fergus Finlay. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

Fergus Finlay, who chairs a campaign about alcohol awareness, has welcomed the decision by Diageo to drop its sponsorship of London Irish rugby club.

The drinks company made the decision after the club signed former Ireland international Paddy Jackson in the wake of the high-profile Belfast rape trial.

STOP campaign chairman Mr Finlay said the decision by Diageo to end their sponsorship of the London club was the "correct" one.

The campaign is an independently funded drink-awareness drive that seeks to promote sensible drinking and is sponsored by Diageo.

Mr Finlay said Irish rugby was "a vehicle for drinking" and that Jackson was still facing consequences for his actions because of his WhatsApp messages, rather than the trial itself.

Finlay was disgusted by the "incredible attitude towards women" in the "really laddish" WhatsApp messages and the "horrendous relationship between the events of that night and alcohol.

"I have never heard of the amounts of alcohol that were consumed by all parties that were involved that night," said Finlay.

Backlash

"I think a decision to disassociate with anything to do with the events of that night is a correct decision," he added.

However, former Irish rugby captain Fergus Slattery said Diageo terminating the contract with London Irish showed an excessive backlash against Jackson, considering he was found not guilty.

He and Stuart Olding were both cleared and Slattery believes the players should be allowed to continue their careers.

He felt Jackson was innocent and said he found the backlash against him a year later "bizarre".

He thought it was "daft" that Jackson had received more negative attention than the other men involved.

"Because the guys were deemed innocent, I was very, very disappointed to find out that Diageo were pulling out from London Irish," said Slattery on the Sean O'Rourke show on RTE.

"I still think that Paddy Jackson is getting too much punishment."

Former IRFU coach Eddie O'Sullivan joined the debate, saying they had paid their price.

However, he added: "You'd just wonder now was the price bigger than they thought.

"If he leaves London Irish will any club touch him?

"His career could be in tatters here."

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