Call for alcohol-free zones in Cork on St Patrick’s Day

City officials have been asked to introduce designated alcohol-free zones across the city centre for Cork’s St Patrick’s Day festival.

Cllr John Buttimer (FG) has written to officials overseeing the event asking them to consider the move in a bid to encourage more families to attend.

He said while drinking in public is prohibited, the reality during the festival is that people drink alcohol openly on the streets, and that public drunkenness creates an intimidating atmosphere for festival-goers and visitors.

“Every year, despite the best efforts of gardaí, we see excessive consumption of alcohol on our streets during this festival,” he said.

“What we as a city council are trying to do is to provide family-friendly festivals and services. Introducing alcohol-free zones for the festival would send out a very clear message that the city has a zero-tolerance approach to drinking in public, and to families and children that they can come in to the city to enjoy themselves without seeing alcohol being consumed openly on the streets.”

He confirmed that he is writing to the city’s head of corporate affairs, and to its arts officer, asking them to consider the move.

The issue was raised during Monday’s council meeting during a debate on a motion proposed by Cllr Brian Bermingham that the city adopts a new policy and guidelines on the management, sale or promotion of alcohol at city-organised festivals and events.

The meeting also heard that an attempt was made by a private company during UCC’s Rag week last week to promote an app which alerted students to the locations of pubs and clubs selling cheap booze.

Flyers advertising the app were distributed on campus. But university authorities and student leaders, who have overhauled the Rag week event in recent years after controversy over drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour, moved swiftly to remove the leaflet distributors from campus.

Meanwhile, Cork St Patrick’s Festival will run over three days — from March 15 to 17 — culminating with the parade at 1pm on Monday, featuring 3,000 participants drawn from community and voluntary groups.

Five giant art pieces, created by renowned street theatre companies including Spraoi, Bui Bolg, and Dowtcha, and inspired by legendary tales, have been specially commissioned.

The parade route runs from the South Mall to the Grand Parade, along St Patrick’s Street and finishes at Merchant’s Quay.

It will also be streamed live on www.corkstpatricksfestival.ie.

Up to 100,000 people are expected in the city over the weekend.

Highlights will include musical performances on a stage on St Patrick’s Street, and free Lee Trad sessions in bars across the city centre.

Local produce will be on offer at The Barry’s Tea Market which will be open from 10am-6pm on St Patrick Street on the Saturday and Sunday, and on Grand Parade on the Monday.

International mime artists, jugglers, and magicians will present a series of street performances. The Lord Mayor will launch the Cork Food Policy on the Grand Parade on Saturday, with a free plates of vegetable curry on offer from 10am to 4pm, and cookery demonstrations by Cafe Paradiso chef Denis Cotter, and Mercy Fenton.

* Full details on www.corkstpatricksfestival.ie, or find live updates on Twitter by following @corkstpatricksfestival, or the hashtag #corkpaddyfest.


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