A campaign is to be put into action aimed at reducing rowdiness outside nightclubs and at the same time delivering a road safety message over the festive period.
Free lollipops are to be handed out to revellers leaving nightclubs and bars in Co Mayo in the hope that they will not be able to shout or cause a disturbance while sucking on them, while getting them to read the road safety message wrote on them.
The scheme, which is being led by Mayo County Council, is being put on trial after a similar project in the UK and Canada and in Mayo last year proved successful.
The lollipops, with messages such as ‘Get Home Safely’ on them, will be distributed late at night as people are leaving pubs and clubs and Noel Gibbons, road safety officer with Mayo County Council, says the scheme has worked well abroad.
“The plan is to give out the sugary treats to people coming from nightclubs and late bars in an attempt to crack down on road deaths of pedestrians and to stop drunken brawls. It's a strategy taken from the playbook of police in the UK and Canada, who also use the 'sucker punch' tactic to placate aggressive, drunken men at the end of a night out.
“Like giving candy to a grumpy baby, lollipops are said to have similar effects on grown men and women. Moreover, arguments fuelled by drunken bravado and macho attitudes often escalate following verbal exchanges. But stick a lollipop in their mouth, and it becomes a lot harder to shout.
“In other countries police noticed an immediate decrease in rowdy activity and an increase in calming energy and awareness created around the message on the lollipop,” he said.
The scheme is being supported by Gardaí in Mayo and Superintendent Joe Mc Kenna, who is based in Castlebar, said it was worth trying out.
"Through this campaign we and our partners are using a whole range of ideas to tackle anti-social behaviour and improve road safety to make the Christmas period and New Year a enjoyable and safe time for all,” he said.
The trial is also being backed by pubs and nightclubs in Mayo and Joe Corcoran, manager of the Westport Plaza and Castlecourt Hotel Resort, said they would be backing it.
“We are very happy to be involved with any campaign that can save a life. This is a fantastic initiative by the road safety department of Mayo County Council,” he said.