Revellers started a large street fire and battled with police and fire crews who tried to intervene after St Patrick’s Day celebrations got out of hand in a town in Canada, authorities said last night.
Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson called on Irish people to help make this summer’s Games the “O’Lympics” as he took part in St Patrick’s Day festivities. He praised the “real skill of the Irish community in educating everybody in the business of having a party”.
Ireland Olympic chef de mission and Olympic silver medallist, Cork native Sonia O’Sullivan, said Irish people were pleased to have the Olympics so close to home, and added: “A lot of them are really inspired by the Olympics being in London. It’s a goal. They really want to get there because it’s so close to friends and family.”
Across the Atlantic, police in London, Ontario, said at least 11 people had been arrested, and more arrests were expected as authorities review video of the disturbance and witness statements. At least 17 police vehicles were damaged. No serious injuries were reported.
The trouble began on Saturday night when a crowd of about 1,000 people, many of whom had been drinking, celebrated in the streets in a district near Fanshawe College heavily populated by students which has been the site of previous smaller disturbances.
District fire chief Jim Holmes said fire crews were called to the scene after revellers flipped over a TV news van and set it on fire, but were driven back when some people in the crowd pelted them with rocks and bottles.
The vehicle exploded and partygoers fed the street fire with furniture, mattresses, fences, uprooted trees, a large TV set, and even a 20lb propane tank.
However, the behaviour in Ireland was much more restrained, with hundreds of thousands of people across the country taking part in colourful and joyful parades and festivals.
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