Wednesday 21 March 2018

'There was a sense of manic aggression in the air'

Craig Hughes

WHEN I arrived at Heuston Station at 5pm on Saturday, things were already getting out of hand.

Outside the station, shards of glass and drink cans littered the footpath, along with the already boozed-up revellers. Similar sights greeted me on the way to the Phoenix Park.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Criminal Courts of Justice, with cases of beer in tow as they freely flouted the law.

The gardai seemed to be exercising a policy of appeasement.

While 30 people were arrested for assault, drugs and public order offences on Saturday, I saw, at a modest estimate, at least 100 people publicly mocking the law and drinking outside the courthouse.

It took about 40 minutes to walk from the entrance of the Phoenix Park to the concert site.

The fans knew it was a long walk and stocked up on booze for the trek. But some people had already had too much.

I've seen excessive drinking and drug taking in public before, but this was different. There was a sense of manic aggression in the air.

Just outside the venue, I was offered ecstasy by a youth who looked little more than 18.

This same character also offered to buy the sunglasses I was wearing. He tried to take them from me after I said they weren't for sale.

After fending off his advances, I made my way inside the venue. I strolled in without being searched, as did my friend. A group of friends I met inside had also not been searched.

I was in awe of the music but, at the same time, constantly on edge.

When Swedish House Mafia left the stage and the crowd started to depart, one man who didn't want the excitement to end decided to climb the 30ft structure holding the speakers and the big screen.

The remaining crowd looked on in despair as he climbed higher and higher.

He stayed perched on top of the structure for about 15 minutes before coming down, much to everyone's relief.

Irish Independent

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