Castlebar councillor weighs in on fizzy drink vending machine debate

A Castlebar councillor has added her voice to the growing number of calls for an outright ban in schools on fizzy drink vending machines.

Last week, Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan said she wouldn't be introducing a ban on the vending machines despite growing concerns about the rates of childhood obesity.

Minister O'Sullivan said bans don't necessarily change behaviours and she urged schools to introduce more education on healthy eating and healthy options instead.

However, Sinn Fein's Cllr Therese Ruane said a ban is needed because schools suffering from “chronic underfunding” can't be expected to turn down the extra income the vending machines generate.

“Schools are paid between €3,500 and €4,000 a year per vending machine on their premises,” said Cllr Ruane.

“This is a significant amount of income for any school that is underfunded by the Department of Education.

“While schools recognise that sugary drinks are not beneficial to the wellbeing of their students, it seems that the need for increased funding has led to this unfavourable situation."

Cllr Ruane is now urging the Minister to reconsider her position and implement an outright ban.

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