Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Box nightclub promotion encouraged reckless boozing

By Claire Williamson

A Belfast nightclub has breached the Northern Ireland drinks code after a promotion was found to have encouraged the irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

The Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) watchdog upheld a complaint against the owners of The Box nightclub in the Odyssey complex.

Concerns were raised that the club's 'Loko' promotion and the associated strapline 'S**t's about to get crazy' encouraged irresponsible drinking and that the language used was offensive.

The ICP is responsible for administering the industry code for the responsible promotion of alcohol in Northern Ireland.

It concluded: "The use of the word 'Loko' as the name of the promotion and when used with the accompanying strapline 'S**t's about to get crazy' was offensive and condoned or encouraged irresponsible drinking."

The ICP said the nightclub owner had ceased the promotion and fully co-operated with the enquiry process.

ICP chairman Duncan McCausland said: "Whilst we acknowledge that promotions can play an important marketing role in driving business and attracting customers, it remains the responsibility of every licensee to ensure their promotions do not encourage the irresponsible consumption of alcohol, or offend anyone."

Utopian Leisure, which operates The Box nightclub, has been notified of the decision, along with the PSNI and Belfast City Council.

Pubs of Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said it "supported the decision."

"Pubs of Ulster is fully committed to ensuring that our members comply with the code and that the message is sent out loud and clear that there is no place whatsoever for such practices in our industry."

Over the past year alcohol abuse at the Odyssey has hit the headlines.

In February, Belfast student Robert Kelly drank a large quantity of alcohol during a Loko drinks promotion at The Box and ended up with hypothermia after he was thrown out.

His cousin, Joby Murphy, died in 2012 following a similar night out.

A week earlier, 100 young people were treated for the effects of drink during a DJ Hardwell gig at the Odyssey. It was declared a Major Incident by the health authorities.

Drink-fuelled fights also broke out during a recent darts tournament in the arena.

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