By Olivia Kelleher
A voluntary organisation comprised of seven different religious denominations took to the streets of Cork last night for the Leaving Certificate celebrations in order to assist young people who were in difficulty after the festivities.
Members of the Cork Street Pastors team gave out dozens of pairs of flip flops to inebriated or tired young girls who were unable to walk in their heels.
However, co ordinator of the night patrol, David Hoey, told the Neil Prendeville show on Cork's Red FM that the situation was better than when they first started their work in 2012.
"What we noticed was that the vast majority of the young girls had flat shoes with them. That wasn't something we saw before. They came out prepared with flat shoes. That is a big thing getting home safely.
"I think things have improved a wee bit. The drink culture is there. It is something the country has taken to and I would like to see that change. It is a societal thing. I am not sure how to address that best."
The Street Pastors organisation was established in Brixton in London fifteen years ago. It has over 9,000 volunteers in the UK and other countries including Ireland.
David Hoey and his team of volunteers go out every Saturday night and during Rag and Fresher's week to help young people who are experiencing problems on the streets after a night out.
Mr Hoey says they focus on teenagers who are in vulnerable situations.
"That could be anything from somebody losing a mobile phone or getting disconnected from their friends having had a few drinks. Get a bit concerned up to an assault or anything else. Mostly what we were doing last night when a couple of them were getting sick you just look after them, you get their friends to stay with them.
LEAVING CERT RESULTS NIGHT!
The city is buzzing with Leaving Cert students queuing for bars on Oliver Plunkett St.
Are you celebrating tonight?
1850 104 106/Neil@Redfm.ie pic.twitter.com/Pw6VvJR7u6— Neil Prendeville (@NeilRedFM) August 15, 2018
"You wipe them up and clean them up. Give them flop flops. Last night we gave out dozens of flip flops so they could walk home safely and not over the broken glass."
Mr Hoey says volunteers have a good relationship with doormen on pubs and nightclubs. They often connect people back up with their friends with the assistance of nightclub staff.
"We would never leave people alone because we are aware that there are predatory people around."
Mr Hoey says the city would benefit from a triage unit on the Grand Parade at weekends so that young people could be assisted on site rather than going to the A and E unit in the Mercy Hospital.
Three to six volunteers go out on Saturday nights in Cork.
They are Garda vetted for their work. Further information can be obtained at https://www.facebook.com/CorkStreetPastors/