St Patrick's Festival organisers hit back after drink criticism

The organisers of Cork’s St Patrick’s Festival have launched a robust defence of the event, insisting that it’s a safe, family-friendly event which prohibits the promotion of alcohol.

The city council issued a strongly-worded statement yesterday defending its management of the festival and rejecting assertions that public drinking and drunkenness have marred previous events.

It followed calls from FG Cllr John Buttimer for the designation of alcohol-free zones at this year’s three-day event.

Mr Buttimer said although prohibited, excessive consumption of alcohol on the streets during previous festivals has created an intimidating atmosphere for some festival-goers.

He said the establishment of designated alcohol-free zones would send out a clear message that the city adopts a zero-tolerance approach to drinking in public.

But the council said the festival has always prided itself on being a “truly family-friendly” event.

“The promotion of alcohol at the Cork St Patrick’s Festival is prohibited and the festival always encourages responsible behaviour,” they said. “For the eight years which Cork City Council has managed the event we have delivered a safe, family event.

“This is reflected in our close working relationship with the gardaí and the huge attendance by the public.

“We are at a loss to understand how and why this matter has arisen at this time, as we have carefully managed the event, in the interests of the public, safety and the city, and with our colleagues in the gardaí, and this is how we have earned such a positive reputation.

“It is hoped that the misleading reporting on this matter will in no way discourage audience, or indeed damage the reputation of one of Cork’s foremost events.

“The effect of such comments may impact upon trade at a delicate time for local traders and there is no reason this should be the case.”

But Mr Buttimer said he stands over his suggestion, which was made in the context of a wider debate on alcohol and Irish society.

“I believe my suggestion would be a positive addition, rather than a negative addition to the festival,” he said.

Final preparations are being made for the festival which kicks off on March 15 and which is expected to attract up to 100,000 people over the weekend.

It will culminate with the parade at 1pm on Monday, featuring 3,000 participants.

* The full festival line-up is available at www.corkstpatricksfestival.ie


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