A leading emergency consultant in Cork has described Arthur’s Day as “really regrettable” and “the last thing this country needs”.
Staff at the Mercy University Hospital Cork said they were under particular pressure on Thursday night because of “semi-riotous” behaviour on the part of some Arthur’s Day and UCC Freshers’ Week revellers. Drink-related admissions were also higher at Cork University Hospital.
The owner of Liberty Grill on Washington St tweeted yesterday: “Major rethink needed on Arthur’s Day. As a celebration of drunkenness it gets an A+ from the scenes on Washington St.”
The nearby Café Gusto also posted: “A walk though city at 4am before street cleaners would be a sight never forgotten.”
MUH staff said 17 ambulances, very many containing injured drunk people, arrived at the city centre hospital between 8pm and 8am, compared to a normal Thursday night average of 12 over 24 hours.
Emergency consultant Stephen Cusack who works at Cork University Hospital, said it is “ridiculous to incite more people to drink when Irish people are drinking more than enough already”.
He described the streets of Cork as being like the “last days of Sodom and Gomorrah” on Thursday.
Gardaí also said it was “very busy” and they had to draft in extra staff from the suburbs to cope with the large numbers that were gathering in the city centre from 4pm onwards.
Thursday marked Arthur’s Day, an annual musical event first launched by Diageo in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Guinness brewing company. However in just three years, it has become part of the social calendar.
Drinkers are expected to raise a glass to the memory of Arthur Guinness at 17:59 (5.59pm), a reference to 1759, the year the Guinness Brewery was established. This means that many revellers begin gathering at pubs early in the evening. The event also coincides with Freshers’ Week in the country’s colleges, meaning the consumption of alcohol can be particularly excessive.
However Cork Business Association (CBA) has strongly defended Arthur’s Day as a remarkable marketing initiative. Diageo Ireland, which owns Guinness, also said they received no complaints from the HSE or emergency services about the initiative.
CBA chief executive, Donal Healy said: “We welcome any business or marketing initiative that will get people into the city centre.
“Vintners are having a particularly hard time of it at the moment and there are spin-off benefits for other businesses such as food and taxi providers“.
A Diageo spokeswoman said Arthur’s Day is all about responsible drinking.
“We promote responsible drinking and discourage alcohol misuse year-round through our support of drinkaware.ie and other resources.
“We are also in regular dialogue with publicans and venue managers. As a consequence, the overwhelming majority of consumers in Dublin and nationwide behaved responsibly throughout Arthur’s Day,” she said.
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