The global view: a drinking free-for-all

IT’S a day to celebrate our Irishness, but across the world St Patrick’s Day is portrayed as a day of alcohol-fuelled fights, vandalism and abusive behaviour.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia's largest newspaper, in a story titled 'Violence Mars St Patrick's Day' said the event was increasingly becoming an excuse for heavy drinking.

"The day used to be a quiet, religious-focused holiday in the Republic of Ireland, where pubs stayed closed for the day and parades were low-key affairs," the newspaper said.

It went on to point out that this had changed and that drink was now playing a huge part in our culture.

News24.com, a South African current affairs website, said it had become a huge tourist event by day and, at night, a drinking free-for-all in many cities.'

In its story, which was headlined 'Irish Go Wild on St Patrick's Day', it said that more than 100 arrests had been made in Dublin, which proved to be less than half the real figure.

"Two Dublin commuter trains carrying revellers home had to be withdrawn from service after fights broke out and windows were shattered," the website reported.

Nine.Msn, an Australian news website, described the national day as "a drinking free-for-all".

The Seattle Times also mentioned drink-fuelled violence but wrongly claimed arrests in Dublin were down on the previous year.

Cork, which is celebrating European Capital of Culture, was also mentioned by the Sydney Morning Herald and News24.com. Both reported that there had been around 50 arrests in the city for drunken violence.

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