18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Celebrating its fifth year in operation, the popular nationwide campaign offers free soft drinks to drivers, providing them with an added incentive to be the designated driver while out on the town this festive season.
Speaking at the launch, Erica Roseingrave, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland, said: "This year, Coca-Cola is encouraging more designated drivers to take part in the campaign, to spread the word amongst their friends, to avail of complimentary drinks in all participating licenses premises and to ask their local pub to sign up to 'Designated Driver', if they already haven't.
"Encouraging people to make the responsible choice when driving is crucial in reducing the numbers of road accidents, particularly during the holiday season.
"The availability of non-alcoholic drinks free of charge can provide people with an all-important alternative and rewards drivers for socialising safely."
The Designated Driver campaign went live in all participating outlets from Monday, December 1 and runs until December 31, 2008.
A full list of participating licenses premises is available on www.designateddriver.ie.
In order to cater for varying consumer preferences, Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland is making an extensive range of non-alcoholic beverages available free of charge.
The range of products on offer includes Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Fanta as well as Deep RiverRock and Fruice.
As Ireland's leading non-alcoholic beverage company, Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland (CCBI) recognises that the company can play a role in the national drive to promote responsible driving, through a campaign that benefits both consumers and the licensed trade.
Participating in the Designated Driver Christmas Campaign allows publicans to incentivise customers to continue to visit licensed premises and encourages drivers to take a responsible approach to the issue of drinking and driving - a win-win for all.
Designated Driver was launched for the first time in 2003 and since then it has gone from strength to strength and more activations and innovations are planned for 2009.
The campaign also has the vital support of key organisations including Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) and An Garda Siochana.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Eddie Rock commented at the launch: "An Garda Siochana welcomes all initiatives which promote safe driving awareness and appeal to all motorists to support the Designated Driver Campaign.
"The campaign helps to heighten public awareness, and to change both behaviour and attitudes with regard to drink driving.
"It forms part of an overall process which hopefully will result in a continuing downward trend in the reduction of road deaths and injuries."
Fionnuala Sheehan, Chief Executive of drinkaware.ie, is encouraged by the public response to the Designated Driver scheme to date.
She has expressed her support for the initiative, stating: "Designated Driver is a practical initiative that will encourage responsible drinking around the busy Christmas period. We are delighted to fully endorse it and encourage the public to avail of it."
Sheehan also took the opportunity to remind people that you might still be over the limit to drive the morning after the night before.
"Your body gets rid of roughly one standard drink per hour - that's a glass of beer or a small glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits per hour.
"It's best to make alternative arrangements if you think alcohol may still be in your system. Remember the designated driver system is effective whether it is used to travel to work in the morning or home from a party at night."
The campaign also has the backing of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI), the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), Beverage Council of Ireland (BCI), and the Irish Nightclub Industry Association (INIA).
More information on 'Designated Driver' is available at www.designateddriver.ie.