Mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr Andrew McGuinness is calling for changes in closing times for pubs and clubs in the city following a number of violent incidents on the streets in recent weeks.
The call comes following a recent violent assault on the CEO of local radio station KCLR, John Purcell. Since the attack Mr Purcell has met with the Assistant Garda Commissioner, Jack Nolan to outline his concerns about the level of anti-social behaviour on the city’s streets especially at the weekend.
Mayor McGuinness believes that allowing and encouraging licensed premises’ to close at varying times would help to stamp out public disorder and make our streets safer.
“A lot of people seem to drink more around closing time and then everyone is out on the streets at the same time and many of these people are in an intoxicated state. We need to dilute the footfall out of the pubs and clubs at the same time and this would help to diffuse with the problem of anti-social behaviour. At the moment pubs stop serving alcohol at 12.30am and premises with a late licence at 2am. We need to introduce other options for later closing times.
“I have witnessed aggression on the streets in the early hours and it is all alcohol-related. I am cautious myself when I am out late in the evening at the weekends especially and there are hundreds of people drunk on the street at the same time. It is a crazy and potentially dangerous situation.
“It is about time that we admitted there is a problem when everyone piles out on the street at the same time. This needs to be changed and the best way to do this is to vary the closing times of licensed premises,” he said.
The Mayor condemned the attack on Mr Purcell who was assaulted on his way home from a social function when he saw a number of young men vandalising street property. Mr Purcell photographed the perpetrators to report the incident and was set upon and then chased by the group. His wife Pauline was knocked to the ground and hit her head when she went to her husband’s aid.
“I was shocked by what happened to Mr Purcell and his wife. The men that ran after him seemed hellbent on hurting him and getting the photographs deleted.
“I hope that they are brought to justice not only for assault but also for criminal damage. Kilkenny prides itself as being the friendliest city in Europe and the tidiest town in Ireland. It is disgusting to see a small minority of our own people destroying what we have worked so hard to achieve.
The Mayor is calling on the Minister for Justice to deploy more gardai to help police the streets at the weekends but believes that the root cause of a lot of anti-social behaviour is the spilling out of people from licensed premises at the same time.
“The gardai are very stretched at the moment and I am calling on the Minister for Justice to allocate more gardai to the city. I have heard that the gardai are so understaffed that they are putting themselves at risk because there are so few of them.
Furthermore he believes that a network of professionals, namely bouncers and taxi drivers should be set up which would act as a structure whereby people could watch out for one another and share information.
“It makes sense that the professionals that are working in the city centre like bouncers and taxi driver should form a network so that they can keep in contact with each other and of course the gardai.”