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Ambulance service for drinkers rejected by publicans

PLANS for an ambulance to service late night drinkers are in doubt after local vintners decided to boycott it.

Members of the Galway City Vintners Association have hit out at the plans, saying they give a bad impression of the city as a "battleground".

The scheme, which is the first of its kind in Ireland or the UK, has come in for criticism from publicans who claim it is not needed in the city.

The private venture, called Night Medics, would solely operate at night venues between 9pm and 4am, seven days a week and would be funded by the publicans.

The service was to be rolled out this month as an influx of students returned to the city after the summer.

The company behind the initiative, Cara Ambulance Service, insisted the service was not just for revellers who had too much to drink but would assist anybody who had suffered an injury or taken ill.

Stricter

However, chairman of the Galway City Vintners Association Terry Tyson said none of its members would be signing up for the scheme.

"One hundred per cent of the publicans we represent have no intentions at all in signing up for the service. It sends out a terrible image of Galway as a battleground. We do have our problems, but the garda are working on them by taking a stricter stance on late licenses and bars," he said.

Mr Tyson added that the proposed cost of the venture was excessive. Venues were to be charged €120 per week per outlet or €100 per week if more than 30 venues signed up for the scheme.

"That comes up to close to €6,500 a year. It would be a huge expense for publicans. They are overburdened at the moment with the cost of rates and everything else.

''Our rates go towards providing the HSE ambulance service, why should they have to pay again for a service which is already being provided?" he added.

The service was planned to deal solely with clientele from those pubs and clubs which signed up.

Each venue was to be given the direct number to the ambulance, which would also call into the venues throughout the night.

Cara Ambulance Services is planning on rolling out the project in Cork.

A spokesperson for Cara Ambulances did not respond to queries on the matter yesterday.

Irish Independent