Cork councillor calls for 'drink-free zones' on St Patrick's Day

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A Cork city councillor is calling for designated alcohol-free zones for the upcoming three-day St. Patrick's Day festival in the city.

Fine Gael's John Buttimer has written to city officials, asking them to consider the move in a bid to make the event more family-friendly.

He said while drinking in public is prohibited, the reality is that during the festival people drink alcohol openly on the streets, and that public drunkenness creates an intimidating atmosphere for festival-goers and visitors.

The issue was raised during Monday’s city council meeting, the Irish Examiner reported.

Speaking to Cork's RedFM, Councillor Buttimer said it is all about reclaiming the streets.

"Over the last number of years we've made a huge effort at repositioning the St. Patrick's Day and St. Patrick's Day Festival as a family event - and obviously this is another addition in that re-branding and repositioning," he said.

"We've increased it effectively from just a parade to a three-day festival with lots of ancillary and associated activities for families".

"And really it's about reclaiming the streets and showing young people - in particular - that they can enjoy themselves, they can be civic-minded and that they don't have to have recourse to alcohol to do that" he added.

However Director of Corporate Affairs at Cork City Council Valerie O'Sullivan said that she is at a loss to understand how and why this matter has arisen at this time.

"I'm not saying there aren't people drinking," she said.

"I'm saying the council operates a festival that prohibits the sale of alcohol anyway as part of the festival."

Ms O'Sullivan added that drinking on the streets was a matter for An Garda Síochána, not Cork City Council.

"In Cork city it (street drinking) isn't an issue during this festival, and we don't expect it to be this year."

Cork's St Patrick’s Festival will run over three days — from March 15 to 17 — culminating with the parade at 1pm on Monday, featuring 3,000 participants drawn from community and voluntary groups.

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