There’s a danger a repeat of the negative fall-out from drink and drug related hospitalisations in the aftermath of the recent Club MTV event at Ebrington could have a damaging effect on the reputation of the city.
That’s according to SDLP Councillor for the Waterside Tina Gardiner, who expressed her concerns during a meeting of Council’s Business and Culture Committee after the major concert last week.
Members discussed what was referred to as “negative media coverage” after the Journal, among others, reported an Altnagelvin A&E consultant’s estimate that 30 out of 100 casualty admittances on the night of the concert were drug and alcohol related and that there had been reports of “extreme illness” and assaults by drunk and stoned revellers who attended.
Ms Gardiner said there had been some concern over the “negative press”.
She pointed out that over 11,000 people had been attracted to the major event which was “something we want to be encouraging” as a council.
However, when she attended Ebrington the morning after the night before she found the venue “covered in glass” she told members of the committee.
She said she spoke to some of the clean-up staff and was told that they had left the venue at 3am and hadn’t returned until 11am the following morning in order to complete the job.
“If you were staying in one of the hotels in the city and walked across to Ebrington that morning you wouldn’t be back,” she said.
Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly said lessons could be learned from the event but was keen to stress the positive.
“A lot of negatives came out of it but a lot of positives came out of it too in that it showed young people that Ebrington was being used for an event for them.”
He said it was something council needed to learn from but that 30 hospitalisations out of 12,000 was no different from what would be expected at an event of this size elsewhere.
He said 90 per cent of the young people who attended weren’t intoxicated.
DUP Alderman David Ramsey said: “I can’t understand how Ebrington ended up in such a mess and people ended up having to walk through it.”
He said he believed the problem stemmed from people drinking outside.
“They were falling out of buses,” he said.
Regarding the negative press in the wake of the event, he said: “We need to be very careful we don’t put event organisers off coming here.”
Independent unionist Alderman Maurice Devenney said: “Some of the stuff on social media would scare you, with people either drunk or on drugs.”
Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher objected to the term “recreational drugs”.
He said: “You wouldn’t be referring to recreational drugs if you seen people being carted up to Altnagelvin.”
Ms Gardiner said event organisers needed to be held to a high standard and in future Ebrington must not be allowed to be left in the state it remained so late on the Sunday after the concert.