Leaving Cert celebrations highlight our harmful relationship with alcohol

By Teresa Gallagher in the Evening Herald

Thursday August 16 2012

IT was a night to remember for most as Leaving Cert students hit the town to celebrate five years of hard work.

The vast majority were sensible and headed home last night with fond memories of a great day.

But, as our pictures show, it all became too much for a minority.

And once again, our dangerous relationship with booze came to the fore in a smattering of worrying scenes in central Dublin

These were the scenes in the south city centre early today as some took the partying to excess, with messy results.

As the night wore on into morning, passers-by could see a few openly engage in sex acts and violence.

Sadly, I saw some girls so drunk they struggled to stand and several needed the help of emergency services.

Dublin Fire Brigade told the Herald that it had been an unusually busy night with over a dozen cases of young people with alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries.

An 18-year-old man was assaulted with a glass bottle on College Green around 3am but his injuries weren’t serious.

I witnessed several scuffles in tourist hotspot Temple Bar. I watched on in horror as girls screamed as their male friends wrestled each other to the ground.

One extremely drunken girl stripped down to just her bra as she squatted almost naked on the pavement to urinate. Several people passed while she struggled to get her playsuit back on.

Even by 11pm, things had begun to go downhill for some students.

On Camden Street, a tall, scantily clad blonde girl bent over between a bin and a bikestand and vomited. The girl’s friend stood over her holding back her hair.

Nearby, there was a queue of over a hundred revellers outside a nightspot all keen to celebrate the success of the exams.

One girl was overheard telling another to memorise the date of birth on a borrowed passport. “You have your ID. Just remember your birthday.”

A bus was also dropping off students who had been at a house party into town. One girl who was on the bus said around 40 or 50 students had been drinking at their friend’s house since 8pm and they were all heading to the a well-known bar in the city centre.

She told our reporter she had achieved good results and was celebrating with a ‘shoulder’ of vodka.

As the over-indulgence in booze continued, the most horrific scenes came later in the night.

In the city centre, two male pals stripped off their shirts and urged another boy to fight them. It quickly escalated, with several people shoving each other around. Bouncers intervened forcefully to get the situation under control before anyone was seriously hurt.

Just yards away in plain view of passers-by, a young man stood with his jeans around his knees and his shirt opened as he engaged publicly in sexual acts with a girl in a short dress.

The girl was beginning to engage in oral sex but stopped when passers-by paused to take pictures on their camera phones.

By 1am, some were already too drunk to walk. One drunken young man was photographed hunched over vomiting outside a pub.

Another intoxicated reveller was caught clinging to a lamppost on Camden Street in an attempt to stay on her feet.

The Herald witnessed worrying scenes of men preying on vulnerable young women. On Sycamore Street , men were seen offering passing girls drink from a small glass bottle.

In Temple Bar, our reporter witnessed a middle-aged man masturbating in a dark corner just yards from where three young ladies were innocently enjoying a drink. When spotted, the pervert laughed and waved before moving on.

National charity Alcohol Action Ireland said that the onus was on retailers to ensure they didn’t sell to underage drinkers and to cut down on drinks promotions.



“Cheap, widely available alcohol where a young person can get drunk for  €10 is not helping the situation and we know that young people are highly aware of priced-based special promotions,” said director Fiona Ryan.

“We know from what teenagers tell us themselves that the vast majority, 84pc, have no problem getting access to alcohol.

“A quarter of 15 and 16-year-olds have purchased alcohol from an off-licence or supermarket while 37pc have been served in a pub or nightclub.”

“There is a real and immediate obligation on alcohol retailers — pubs, nightclubs, supermarkets and off-licenses — to ensure that they are not selling alcohol to underage drinkers.”

“At the same time, there is an onus on the Government when it returns this autumn to move forward with the Alcohol Action Plan.”