Major incident at Belfast concert

Published Thursday, 06 February 2014
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A major incident has been declared by emergency services as up to 40 young people attending a concert at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast were treated for suspected drug and alcohol intoxication.

Major incident at Belfast concert
A medical tent has been erected at the Odyssey Arena (© UTV)

A number of people were taken to hospitals across the city after the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service responded to the incident on Thursday night.

Doctors were put on standby at the Ulster, Mater and Royal hospitals.

A total of 15 people have been admitted to hospital - 11 at the Royal and four at the Mater. They are in a stable condition and are being kept overnight.

Dr Russell McLaughlin, consultant at the RVH A&E, told UTV the patients' symptoms were "consistent with drug and alcohol misuse".

Earlier, an NIAS spokesman said they dealt with casualties "at varying levels of consciousness".

A spokesperson confirmed that around 40 people were treated outside the complex, where a dance event headlined by Dutch DJ Hardwell was taking place.

John McPoland, from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, said they were alerted by staff at the SOS bus after a number of people arrived at the scene intoxicated, shortly after 8pm.

"We arrived down at the scene and assessed and very quickly declared a major incident because of the numbers of people involved," he said.

"It seems that a lot of the young people tonight have turned up already with lots of alcohol on board."

He said a couple of people were unconscious at the scene.

As with any concert, the safety of our patrons is our absolute priority at all times and we are very confident that we have sufficient staff on site to maintain a safe and enjoyable concert.

Odyssey General Manager, Adrian Doyle

A statement issued by Odyssey Arena General Manager Adrian Doyle said: "We are aware that a major incident has been declared by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service outside the Odyssey Complex.

"It is our understanding that a number of patrons arriving at the Odyssey Arena to attend a concert by Dutch DJ act 'Hardwell' have required medical attention, having arrived intoxicated at the Odyssey Complex.

"These patrons were not granted entry to the Odyssey Arena, and were treated by the Ambulance Service outside."

He said the concert continued "as normal inside the Odyssey Arena."

Meanwhile, Pubs of Ulster "strongly condemned the events".

"We are extremely concerned to hear that a large number of young people are being treated for the apparent effects of alcohol and drugs," Chief Executive Colin Neill said.

"Pubs of Ulster would reiterate that alcohol should be consumed responsibly and safely. Pre-loading at home before going out is dangerous and can lead to unintended consequences with people putting themselves at great risk.

"Parents must stop under 18s getting access to drink and licensees should check ID and exercise extreme caution at all times."

It is understood doors to the over 16s event opened at 6.30pm.

Emergency services remained on stand-by after the concert ended.

Pauline O'Boyle, from Waterfoot in Co Antrim, took her two sons aged 16 and 17 to the concert, but returned after hearing reports of the major incident.

"As we arrived, we were quite concerned, about the ones that we had seen, you kinda knew to look at them, they were on something, either drink or drugs or something," she said.

"There were girls being carried out, that were just completely out of it, there were boys inside the Odyssey itself fighting with people, it was just not nice.

"I didn't expect this, it's quite scary as a parent."

An emergency number for anyone seeking information has been set up on 028 90 638131.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
45 Comments
annoyed in belfast wrote (219 days ago):
@LOU-totally agree with your point that we all done it.However,i don`t ever remember a major incident being declared outside Kellys?? The internet is to blame for so much but I also think its the attitude of kids.I went to Kellys,Neros etc in the 90`s/00`s but there is absolutely no way that I would have dared to come home to my parents in a state.I dread to think what would have happened if my Dad had to come and pick me up from an A&E department!! Kids now don`t have the same respect for their parents.Yes,parenting is partly to blame but there is also too much political correctness in my opinion.Schools,social services,health visitors etc,they are all teaching our kids that their parents can`t hit them,can`t speak to them in a certain way, have to encourage them regardless...if a child is badly behaved,you cant chastise them,instead they are referred to a doctor and told they have "issues"...its a joke and makes it very difficult for parents to actually parent!! Theres a huge difference between discipline and abuse!
anon in Belfast wrote (219 days ago):
Years back, at concerts in the Ulster hall and such, security would search everyone on entering the hall, a long process but everyone knew what to expect and it made it all go that bit quicker.. What were security doing at the Odyssey on that night?.. probibly watchin the girls in their tight clothing and laughin. Better security needed there, and tighter laws on entering big events there.My heart is with all the families who have had to suffer their kids getting sick over lack of event supervision.
anon in northern ireland wrote (220 days ago):
These events should be strictly over 18 !! Im 32 and was there at the concert, total nightmare !! Some of these young people don't know how to behave sober or drunk !! Worst 41.50 ever spent !! There was not one alcoholic drink sold after 9.15 says it all really odyessy not to blame.
Hans in Belfast wrote (220 days ago):
I work on Sydenham Road and saw these kids piling out of buses & coaches in that state; this is a common theme when concerts are on at the Odyssey. Maybe these coach companies need to review their policy on allowing these kids on the bus. They could also insist at booking that an adult is present so the driver is not solely responsible for deciding if someone is intoxicated.
David in Belfast wrote (220 days ago):
I have worked at the arena. Sad to say this has happened before on a number of occasions with teenagers under the influence of drink but has nerved been exposed to the media until now.
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