Odyssey gig response 'prevented tragedy'

Published Monday, 17 February 2014
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The response to a major incident outside a gig at Belfast's Odyssey Arena may have helped prevent a major tragedy, DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots has said - at a multi-agency meeting looking at ways to prevent similar situations in future.

Odyssey gig response 'prevented tragedy'
Police and emergency vehicles at the scene of the major incident at the Odyssey. (© UTV)

The meeting was called to discuss the incident at the venue on 6 February, when over 100 young people were treated for intoxication ahead of a performance by Dutch DJ Hardwell.

The declaration of a major incident saw city hospitals put on standby and extra medical staff drafted in, while emergency services and volunteers including the the SOS Bus responded at the scene.

Many of those who fell ill had consumed too much alcohol, while others were under the influence of drugs. More people were turned away from the over-16s only gig because they were too young.

"It appears that many young people turned up to the event 'pre-loaded', having drunk a significant amount of alcohol either at home or on the way to the venue and a number of those treated were under 16 years of age," Edwin Poots said on Monday.

"We need to understand where these young people got their alcohol from and if they were drinking on buses on the way to the event. I also think we have to look at how the event was policed and managed - especially given the fact that this concert was for those aged 16 and over."

Young people are able to get drunk basically on the price of a couple of Mars Bars.

Health Minister Edwin Poots

The meeting was called to look at the surrounding circumstances and examine whether lessons could be learned or new measures implemented to address such issues in future.

Representatives from the Odyssey, NI Ambulance Service, Public Health Agency, PSNI and Pubs of Ulster joined those from the Department of the Environment, the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Development.

One of the issues raised was alcohol pricing.

"I have commissioned research to model the impact of the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol in Northern Ireland, and it is anticipated that this will be completed within the next few months," Mr Poots said.

"When this report is analysed, I will take a decision, jointly with the Minister for Social Development, whether or not to proceed with appropriate legislation."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
15 Comments
FairPlay in Ulster wrote (196 days ago):
Why do you never feature my comments
jean in Dungannon wrote (197 days ago):
Maybe this is why my son-in -law had to wait for hours on an ambulance after he fell and broke his leg. They were probably out gathering up these young drunk hooligans.
mark in belfast wrote (197 days ago):
When are these people going to get it right. The venue done everything in its power to control the situation (although over 16 was a bad idea). Having worked at teenage events before I have seen many times kids coming off buses drunk, young girls jumping into cars with older fellas, off licenses buzzing with underage. First thing the police do is blame the venue as it is easier to try and have the event shut down than control the children in the streets. In ROI gardai stand at the queue into nightclubs and weed out trouble makers. If we did similar these idiots would not turn up in the state they do. PSNI should work with clubs and pubs who are all more than willing to work on stamping this out.
neil in derry wrote (197 days ago):
I think the police need to get tough with event organisers and pubs who serve underage kids. e tabs were being sold for 1 pound each as soon as kids stepped off the buses. The police also need to get tough with the parents of every child who are costing the tax payers millions. casualty is packed every weekend with drunks and druggies and we wonder why our nhs cant cope
Ulysses32 in Belfast wrote (197 days ago):
Ahhhh, the minimum pricing fallacy again. It is not the alcohol or drugs that is the problem. It the people who partake that is. People will always be able to get access to what ever they want, irrelevant of the cost. There is no disincentive only more revenue for the government. People drink at home now rather than going to pubs. Why? You have only to look at the price of a pint. If minimum pricing is introduced by a nanny state it will mean that people will only go for the a cheaper alternative and that may not be in societies interest at all. Underage drinking is not a new thing. I can remember 30 years ago when when we used to get a litre of Woodpeaker and two tins of Carlsberg Special. The only thing that has changed is the drinks menu. Drinkers are doing the same today as they have always done. Tackle the irresponsible. Don't punish the responsible.
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