Extra police must be drafted on to the streets of a leading Northern Ireland seaside resort at night following the latest in a series of killings outside night-spots, it was claimed tonight.
Police launched a murder investigation after a 24-year-old hotel barman was killed in a fight outside a nightclub in Portrush, Co Antrim, early today.
Brian Caskey, who lived at Loughinhill Park in nearby Coleraine, Co Derry, died after an apparent fall-out among friends who had been drinking together until after 1.30am.
He was repeatedly punched in the face outside the Bed nightclub in the resort’s Station Square. He was dead on arrival at hospital.
A 23-year-old was arrested later by police, said a spokesman, and was being interviewed as officers studied film from a nearby CCTV camera which is understood to have captured the incident.
It was the fourth killing linked to the town’s nightclubs in recent years.
Nearly three years ago the niece of SDLP MP Eddie McGrady, Julie Hamill, was found stripped, raped and murdered on a beach. She had been in Kelly’s nightclub in Portrush and is believed to have been slipped a date-rape drug by her attacker .
In August last year a Belfast student died in hospital from head injuries after allegedly being attacked near the same nightclub.
Three years ago a 25-year-old local man was kicked to death while walking home from the same club after a night out.
Local Ulster Unionist Assembly member David McClarty said tonight there needed to be more police on the streets when the clubs and pubs turned out their customers in the early hours.
Some 10,000 revellers a night head to the resort’s night-spots on Friday and Saturday nights and police reinforcements are on duty.
But the MLA said they were needed on the others nights even though numbers of clubbers were reduced.
”The vast majority don’t drink to excess, but there are others that if they get a taste of drink become fighting mad,” he said.
“I would call for more police on the streets, I think it would be a controlling influence and would be welcomed by the vast majority of people.”
Mr McClarty said it would be much more effective to have officers on foot and visible rather than in the occasional passing patrol car.
He was backed by John Dallat, MLA of the SDLP, who said he was appalled at the latest tragic incident.
“It is devastating news that yet another young person has lost their life in Portrush after a night out. Clearly there is an urgent need to continue to review the operation and management of these nightclubs to ensure the safety of patrons,” he said.
The Mayor of the local Coleraine Council, Olive Church, said: “There is so much of this type of behaviour that something serious must be done.”
Coleraine Council – in whose area thousands of University of Ulster students live – was the first council to pioneer a special training scheme and qualification for door stewards or bouncers.
Training in management practices, spotting signs of trouble and stopping it and looking out for indications of drugs use or the effects of drugs have been recognised as a success and spread to other areas.
But, as David McClarty pointed out, the stewards’ remit ended at the club door and did not stretch to trouble down the road – that would have to be tackled better by police, he said.