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Brother of Deputy First Minister is linked to chaotic MTV event in Derry

By Suzanne Breen

Published 19/09/2016

The MTV stage being assembled
The MTV stage being assembled
Director: Willie McGuinness

A brother of the Deputy First Minister and Foyle MLA Martin McGuinness is a director of the company that organised an MTV concert in Londonderry linked to dozens of young people being treated in hospital for drug and alcohol-related incidents.

Willie McGuinness is a director of Legacy Promotions which staged the outdoor event in Ebrington Square.

The concert saw scenes of chaos in Derry with drunken and drugged teenagers staggering around the streets.

There is no suggestion that Sinn Fein or Martin McGuinness had any involvement in the organisation of the event, and Sinn Fein refused to be drawn on the matter, saying: "The concerns relating to incidents involving young people at the MTV event should be raised with the organisers."

A consultant in Altnagelvin Hospital's emergency department said it was stretched to breaking point by casualties from the event. Around 30 revellers, some as young as 13, were brought to hospital during and after the concert nine days ago. Some of those seeking treatment had to be admitted into intensive care.

Paul Baylis, Emergency Medicine Consultant at the hospital, said there had been a "significant increase" in attendance at A&E as a result of the concert on September 10.

"There was a significant influx who were aged around 13 or 14, up to their 20s, and almost all of them showed evidence of drug use, either Ecstasy or amphetamines that produces a variety of problems. Some were very sick and needed to be moved on to our colleagues in intensive care," he said.

"Out of the 100 people who attended the A&E department, 30 of them were alcohol or drugs-related. There was also an increase in the number of cases of assault attending our service with the injured patients stating that they had been assaulted by drunk or stoned assailants.

"As a direct consequence of the MTV event, our usual challenging A&E Saturday evening environment became a more dangerous environment for all our patients, as our fixed staffing resources strived to cope with the additional workload."

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said he was shocked at the scenes he had witnessed: "I saw young people - some unfortunately totally out of it due to alcohol or other substances - gain access to the event. There has to be a serious investigation into what went wrong.

"The city should be getting good publicity, not making negative headlines from such events. I know the majority of concert-goers enjoyed the experience without incident, but the major problems on the streets, and for our emergency services, can't be denied. It could have been a matter of life and death."

The Deputy First Minister's brother's role in Legacy Promotions is not as widely known as some of his other business interests. Willie McGuinness has been a prominent republican in the city for decades.

He has previously addressed the unveiling of a monument to dead IRA members. Last month, he spoke out strongly against those who organised a bonfire in the Bogside which saw hundreds of youths on the streets.

Willie McGuinness is registered as a director of Legacy Promotions at Companies House. The Belfast Telegraph contacted Legacy Promotions spokesman, Robert Allen, but he refused to comment on the controversial concert.

When asked about Willie McGuinness being a director of the company, he said: "I don't know. You're telling me. I don't deal with Willie McGuinness." Another director of Legacy Promotions is the leading republican, Christopher 'Pinta' McKnight.

Willie McGuinness has previously been linked to Estate Services, the largest security firm in Derry. The firm organised security for Derry City of Culture and many other major public events.

As well as Legacy Promotions, Willie McGuinness is registered in Companies House as a director of several property and pub businesses including MGN Enterprises, Maginn Derry, and Iona Enterprises.

The Belfast Telegraph unsuccessfully tried to contact Willie McGuinness for comment on the concert.

It is understood that Legacy Promotions is now considering whether it will host under-18 events again.

In a BBC report, spokesman Robert Allen denied claims that the event was chaotic, saying that the firm wasn't "overwhelmed", and less than 1% of the 12,000 concert-goers needed treatment. "The whole thing has been blown out of proportion," he stated.

Mr Allen said that up to 20 buses pulled up at the event, and between 50 and 100 people were turned away at the gate because they had been drinking to excess.

"When the people came off these buses, we had two options - either let them lie in the street or take them to a medical centre and get them treated. We treated everyone who needed treated," he added.

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