DCU President Brian MacCraith maintained his silence following a recently published report that heavily criticised the DCU-backed Diageo-funded Stop-Out-Of-Control-Drinking campaign, of which he is a board member.
President MacCraith is one of the original 17 members on the board of the campaign. MacCraith, along with other board members signed off the SOOCD campaign Action Plan, of which DCU Professor of Political Communication, Kevin Rafter prepared a draft report.
The report, published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS ONE), found that the campaign meets the needs of the alcohol industry. It lists all campaign board members, along with how many interviews each have participated in and/or articles or blogs written by them, in relation to the campaign. It confirmed that MacCraith has not participated in any interviews or has published any comments about the campaign since its inception in 2015.
The College View contacted the DCU Communications and Marketing Department on numerous occasions by means of email and phone calls and requested a response from MacCraith to the criticism within the report. However, MacCraith refused to provide direct comment in relation to the request.
MacCraith was also unavailable each time his office was contacted in relation to the issue.
Ex-board member, Dr. Ciara Kelly spoke to The College View about her reaction to the report:
“It is always going to be the case that the drinks industry like the tobacco industry will act in their own best interests which is why stakeholders in public health must stand firm and act in best interest of the people and their health without being swayed by their lobbying,” she said.
Professor Kevin Rafter, told The College View that he “prepared a draft report for this group based on existing publications and material they supplied”. A press release from the SOOCD campaign states that “the action plan includes a three-stage research project led by Professor Kevin Rafter.”
The College View went on to ask Rafter on three occasions for comment on the criticism of the report. He did not wish comment as his “involvement was limited to preparing a draft report.”
SOOCD was set up by Diageo, the multinational alcohol company, who invested €1 million into the campaign. Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s chairs the campaign. David Smith, Managing Director Australasia of Diageo and board member of the campaign resigned following an array of negative media coverage of the campaign. However, Diageo did not pull their funding.
On March 5th, Fergus Finlay Chief Executive of the SOOCD campaign stated on the Ray D’Arcy radio show that “we’ve more or less completed a literature review. We’ve a very substantial report written, by a professor in DCU.”
This confirms that on March 5th, 2015 the report was written. At this point, David Smith, who was Country Director and Chairman of Diageo Ireland at the time, was still a board member of the campaign. The action plan states that “this report has been prepared independent of Diageo”.
Diageo Ireland provided €20,000 support for ten student scholarships under the DCU Access programme, in 2010. The largest of its kind in Ireland, Access at DCU assists students from disadvantaged backgrounds continue their education to 3rd level.
The SOOCD was launched as a five-year plan. However, social media activity has ceased and the campaign’s website is inaccessible.