Sunday 4 December 2016

Two sides of St Patrick's Day as drink takes over the night

This year's festival was safer, with a larger garda presence - but there was still trouble, writes Nicola Anderson

Published 19/03/2016 | 02:30

The parade in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The parade in Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys
A man being taken into back of Garda van in Temple Bar, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Rubbish in Temple Bar. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Rubbish lines the streets. Photo: Arthur Carron

At a street corner in Temple Bar, an impromptu piece of street theatre has erupted courtesy of two young men who have just burst out of the double doors of a nearby pub.

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One scrambles onto the shoulders of the other - but the one on top is of a heavier build and their endeavours are as much a feat of engineering as anything else as they sway, beer slopping out of the plastic glasses they're both still managing to clutch on to.

A French couple with a daughter of about eight years old stand by giggling fearlessly, and a group of American tourists walk past, shaking their heads with mirth: "Funny guys."

There would be frowns at their mild hijinks anywhere else in the capital at 3.30pm, but in Temple Bar the ancient tradition of misrule cheerfully abides as the St Patrick's Day celebrations continue into the weekend.

The tourist hotspot is buzzing the day after the night before, with many hangovers only starting to lift by mid-afternoon.

Everybody we spoke to referred positively to the scenes of Temple Bar the previous night and all had noticed the extra gardaí stationed at all streets leading to the area, saying it made them feel more safe.

Having a late lunch of garlic chips on the street yesterday were three brothers Michael, David and Manuel Meinecke - Volkswagen workers from Wolfsburg in Germany.

"There is a fourth brother but he did not survive the night's celebrations," joked Michael.

This was his third St Patrick's Day in Dublin and Michael did not entirely approve of the changes brought in to improve safety this year, with more gardaí on patrol, as well as a private security firm on duty manning the entrances.

"It was strange. We were not allowed to drink alcohol outside, but the pub was packed too full so we had to go outside," said Michael.

He was disappointed but understood why it was necessary. And he did not think it would put tourists off coming back to Dublin in the years ahead.

From Italy, Giorgia and Claudio Lugnan from Trieste had watched the parade and said it was "very nice" and had just one drink in Temple Bar, opting not to stay because it was "too full, too crowded". However, they had seen no trouble and again noticed the additional policing.

A group of four friends from Switzerland also greatly enjoyed the parade but decided to leave Temple Bar on St Patrick's Day at 5pm because it was "not their scene".

Although there was little trouble overall, it was a St Patrick's Day of two halves in the capital - as has generally been the case in recent years.

Once the peaceful family festivities on O'Connell Street for the parade were over, a mass exodus by public transport took place, and the night-time revelling began in earnest.

By evening, Temple Bar was deemed to be full - and gardaí with clickers monitoring the crowd were refusing entry.

Litter piled up on the streets and yesterday, a massive clean-up operation was under way across the city as Dublin City Council workers struggled to cope.

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council said that it had been difficult to access the bins in some places last night due to the number of people.

It was not just the litter wardens but all emergency services who came under pressure across the capital.

Dublin Fire Brigade call-outs for medical incidents were up 40pc on last Thursday while there was a 65pc increase on fire call-outs for the same period.

But the worst attack of St Patrick's night took place in Temple Bar, when a man in his 20s was arrested after a sickening attack on a female tourist in a city centre nightclub.

The thug kicked a woman in the stomach in an unprovoked attack in the bar before later grappling with his arresting officers.

An eyewitness said the Englishwoman who was the victim of the assault was kicked with such force that she travelled across the dance floor.

Outside, the man responsible for the attack was held by gardaí despite making an ill-fated getaway attempt, pushing a garda as he tried to escape.

The man was then subdued with pepper spray by gardaí before he attempted to break free again.

However, he sustained a head injury when, blinded by pepper spray, he fell against the kerb.

The incident happened in a pub in the Temple Bar area shortly after 2am, as celebrations were getting into full swing.

Gardaí spoke with the woman who was assaulted and viewed CCTV of the vicious attack.

It is understood that the victim did not require hospital treatment.

The attacker needed medical attention from gardaí, however, who were forced to bandage his head after his fall and wash out his eyes with bottled water.

He was later released on bail and is due in court next month in relation to the assault.

In another incident in an alcohol-fuelled night in the capital, a rickshaw driver was attacked by another Dublin man, thought to have been a passenger. However, the attacker lost his footing and fell, hitting his head off the wheel of the rickshaw before any serious damage was done to the driver.

Additional reporting by Ryan Nugent

Irish Independent

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