Saturday 23 September 2017

Donal Lynch: A lesson in manners from lollipops

Authorities hope sweet treats can have a pacifying effect on post-club marauders but there might be a better way, writes Donal Lynch

KEEPING THEM SWEET: Giving out lollipops has had a calming effect on post-club revellers in the UK and Canada
KEEPING THEM SWEET: Giving out lollipops has had a calming effect on post-club revellers in the UK and Canada

Donal Lynch

Picture the scene: it's late night and the clubs have just closed. The air is thick with violent tension and cheap aftershave. Mini-skirted girls are staggering into moving traffic like newborn foals. Takeaway staff are bracing themselves for the usual barrage of racist abuse. Half the crowd want a burger and a ride, the other half want a fight. It looks like things might be about to kick off.

Then a Garda superintendent gives the discreet nod: "Deploy the lollipops."

It could be a scenario from a Waterford Whispers story but this tactic is now being rolled out in Mayo in the hope that the post-club crowds will be "too busy enjoying the sweet treats to get up to no good". The tactic has already been used in Canada and the UK, where it has been proven to work and, while the reasons for this pacifying effect remain mysterious, some of those implementing the programme here have their theories. A road safety officer quoted by RTE elaborated on the tactic: "Like giving candy to a grumpy baby, lollipops are said to have similar effects on grown men and women. Moreover, arguments fuelled by drunken bravado and macho attitudes often escalate following verbal exchanges."

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