St Patrick's Day marred by teen drinking and violence
FIFTEEN teenagers under the legal drinking age were arrested in just one area of south Dublin in a night of drunken St Patrick's Day celebrations.
The figures reflect a worrying rise in under-age drinking flagged by leading mental health experts last week.
The teenagers -- all under 18 -- were arrested because they engaged in criminal offences and most had been drinking, according to sources. The arrests took place in different parts of the south city over a 24-hour period. The final tally of arrested juveniles is likely to be far higher, once figures from other parts of the city become available.
In addition to those arrested, dozens of drunken teenagers were brought to garda stations across the city for their own safety and so their parents could be called to collect them.
The incidents reflect the graphic scenes of drunken youths pictured in newspapers and on the internet in the wake of St Patrick's Day. They included images of one young girl apparently naked from the waist down and of young girls collapsed in a heap on city centre pavements.
Paul Gilligan, of St Patrick's Hospital in Dublin, warned parents last week that children as young as 12 were experimenting with alcohol. He urged parents to be "vigilant and aware of the dangers of excessive alcohol use by young people".
Gardai reported a generally positive atmosphere on St Patrick's Day but it was marred by violence.
Joseph Connolly, 48, died from head injuries on Friday after he was attacked in a random and drunken St Patrick's Day assault by two young men outside a chip shop in Ballymun, Dublin, at around 9pm on Thursday.
It is understood there had been an altercation minutes earlier in the take-away.
Mr Connolly was taken to the Mater Hospital but his condition worsened and he was transferred to the brain injury unit at Beaumont where he failed to recover and was declared dead on Friday afternoon.
The head of the Garda press office, Superintendent John Gilligan made the unusual move of appealing directly to the two men investigating officers believe to assaulted Mr Connolly.
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He said: "We believe what happened was possibly as a result of something very simple and we think that if the people now think about it, come forward, or if someone brings them forward to us, we will deal with it in confidence, we will deal with it discreetly and with dignity to the people involved."
The investigation is not a murder inquiry as it is not suspected the intention was to cause fatal injury.
Ballymun parish priest Fr Gerry Corcoran, who knew the dead man, offered his sympathies to his family.
Fr Corcoran said: "He was a very inoffensive man from a nice family. Our prayers are with his family."
On St Patrick's Day, hundreds were arrested for public order offences and drunkenness "as usual", one city garda said yesterday.
Emergency wards across the country reported the "usual" bank holiday stream of injuries due to drunken assaults and alcohol-related falls.
The garda press office yesterday said it did not have any total figures for arrests on St Patrick's Day but gardai around the country said there were the traditional levels of drunken disorder. As usual there were hundreds of extra gardai on duty throughout the country to deal with the public order problems.
Gardai in Dublin said there was a marked difference in behaviour between young Irish people and young visitors in that the Irish were drunk and badly behaved.