Mayor afraid to walk the streets of his own city after dark

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Councillor Liam Carroll, mayor of County Galway, said that he was shocked by what he had discovered on the streets of the city at 1am.


Mr Carroll, from Oranmore, pointed out that he had visited the annual Irish Fest in Milwaukee last month. The event celebrates Irish culture and is one of the biggest annual ethnic festivals in the US.

“Over three days, more than 133,000 visitors came through the gates – most of them of Irish origin – but there was not one public order offence.

“The bars were open from 11am to midnight, but there was not a sign of any trouble,” he said.

But when he returned to Ireland, Mr Carroll said he read reports of 80 arrests at a concert in Slane. He wanted to see for himself exactly how bad the so-called ‘Irish drink culture’ was and he went into Galway city centre at 1am over the weekend.

“I went to Eyre Square after midnight on Saturday. I just wanted to see for myself exactly what the situation was.

“It was frightening. Young people were drunk and falling all over the place. It was intimidating and frightening and I certainly would not bring my wife in there.

“There was a garda presence in the area and I was glad to see that. They managed to keep a lid on things,” he said.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that the licensing laws were being enforced in the city very successfully. “Unfortunately, the lack of cash and the recession has meant that young people are getting tanked up at home and then going out,” Supt Curley said.

Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday acknowledged that Mr Carroll had identified a key problem of modern drink culture in Ireland.

Chamber chief executive Michael Coyle was last night attending a meeting at which the mayor’s observations were due to be discussed.

Mr Coyle said: “Unfortunately I think the mayor has identified a problem not just specific to Galway, but which is a difficulty across the country.

“I would reiterate Supt Curley’s views that businesses in the hospitality sector have taken measures in regard to individual safety. Of course the kernel of the problem is this culture of drinking at home and then going out.

“I was at a function recently dealing with crime and business, and the hotel where we were meeting was also the venue for a debs night. Youngsters were arriving there clearly having consumed alcohol.

“There’s no obvious solution to the problem of drinking at home first and then going out to drink later.

“The hospitality sector has addressed the issue of under-age drinking and by and large they have taken their responsibilities seriously, but the mayor has identified one of the key problems in our drink culture, the whole issue of drinking at home,” Mr Coyle added.