Odyssey gig response 'prevented tragedy'

Odyssey gig response 'prevented tragedy'

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.

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 PootsThe 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."

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