independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Gardai close club as 1,000 students in serious 'crush'

Rag week revellers pushed in front of traffic

GARDAI were forced to shut down a nightclub after an unofficial Rag Week celebration resulted in a serious crush.

In scenes similar to those at Coppers nightclub in Dublin last month, up to 1,000 revellers at the Electric Garden nightclub in Galway's city centre were caught up in the surge which led to barriers collapsing and some young people falling in front of moving traffic.

Gardai in the city were forced to close the nightclub as a result of health and safety fears amid chaotic scenes as revellers queued for entry.

Despite the crush, no injuries were sustained.

Video footage of the scene shows people being swept forward by the surge before losing their footing and being pushed out on to the road.

Several young patrons can be seen being pushed to the ground in front of traffic, before being helped to their feet by passersby.

Gardai were called to the premises at 11pm on Monday night and took the decision in conjunction with the club management to shut the venue.

"There was a large group of people converging to get in and the decision to close the premises was taken in conjunction with management in the interest of health and safety," said a garda spokesperson.

ARRESTS

Gardai in the city were on alert for further incidents as the city's unofficial Rag Week takes place this week. It follows a number of arrests following anti-social behaviour at last year's event.

A small number of arrests were made on Monday night for intoxication but gardai said there had been no significant disturbances.

Gardai kept watch outside one city pub yesterday morning where hundreds of students gathered from 9.30am to celebrate 'Donegal Tuesday'. Queues remained outside the pub throughout the day despite door staff insisting the 200-capacity venue was full and no more would be admitted from noon onwards.

While many of those present were wearing Donegal jerseys, those gathered came from across the West, with revellers travelling from Sligo, Mayo and Athlone for the event.

Events for the unofficial Rag Week are being organised by groups through social media sites. In 2011, the student body, through the Students' Union at both NUI Galway and GMIT, voted to cancel the event in a move that was supported by the colleges.

Sam O'Neill, GMIT Student Union president, hit out at the promoters of the unofficial Rag Week events saying they were "irresponsible".

"The promoters in the town who are running these events are very irresponsible. It's definitely frustrating for the work we've been doing at the Students' Union to try and change the drinking culture," he added.

Students from around the country have descended on Galway this week to mark the event, which is not recognised by college officials or students' unions at either NUI Galway or GMIT.

By Caroline Crawford

Irish Independent

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