Diageo to pay for Arthur’s Day policing

Drinks giant Diageo is to pay for extra gardaí to be brought onto the streets of cities around the country to police Arthur’s Day celebrations tonight.

A Cork-based chief superintendent last night confirmed the extra manpower was being drafted in and would be paid for by Diageo in order to prevent episodes of public disorder which hit the event last year.

Chief Supt Michael Finn said: “We want people to go into town and have an enjoyable day without encountering any trouble and we will be on the beat to ensure public safety.”

He said Diageo had been responsible in their dealings with gardaí and “have met us on numerous occasions and have been co-operating totally with us”.

Last year in Cork, the event coincided with UCC’s Freshers’ Ball.

In the aftermath of the event, one emergency hospital consultant described the streets of the city as being like the “last days of Sodom and Gomorrah”.

Gardaí had to draft extra numbers from the suburbs to cope with the large numbers gathering in the city centre from 4pm onwards.

In recent days, Diageo has been coming under increasing pressure to abandon Arthur’s Day.

Various groups, including youth organisations and medical staff, have called for the event to be reconsidered amid accusations that it encourages binge drinking and puts emergency services under extra pressure.

Singer Christy Moore and the Waterboys are releasing anti-Arthur’s Day songs today to coincide with the event, which has also been condemned by actor Gabriel Byrne and writer Marian Keyes.

Earlier this week, Alex White, the junior minister with responsibility for alcohol and drugs, said Diageo had invented Arthur’s Day as a “pseudo-national holiday for the purposes of marketing its products — especially to young people — thereby stimulating greater consumption of alcohol”.

The day was first conceived by Diageo in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Guinness brewing company by Arthur Guinness.

More than 500 music events featuring over 1,000 acts are expected to be held across the country today.

Among the headline performers will be Bobby Womack, Emeli Sandé, and Janelle Monáe.

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