Belfast Telegraph

Guinness: We didn't call time on Arthur's Day due to critics

By Kirsty Blake Knox

Guinness has denied that its decision to replace Arthur's Day with a new music initiative has anything to do with the negative Press the event has garnered in recent years.

Arthur's Day was established in 2009 in conjunction with Guinness's 250th anniversary celebrations and was intended to tap into the conviviality of Irish pub culture.

However, the celebration experienced a backlash from its inception, facing accusations that it encouraged and endorsed a culture of binge-drinking in Ireland.

Last year musician Christy Moore released a song which rubbished claims that the day was all about the music and dubbed Arthur's Day a "happy, clappy advertising scheme".

Among those who took part in previous Arthur's Days were Una Healy from The Saturdays, who was pregnant for the 2011 Guinness event in Dublin, and Biffy Clyro – led by singer Simon Neil – who played at Lavery's bar and The Empire in Belfast last year.

Stephen O'Kelly, marketing director of Guinness in Western Europe, however, denied that the negative Press influenced the company's decision to ditch Arthur's Day and instead host 'Guinness Amplify'.

"We view Arthur's Day as a success," he said yesterday.

"There is a bigger issue here of alcohol consumption in Ireland and Arthur's Day was brought into that discussion, but that was not the deciding factor in replacing Arthur's Day."

Mr O'Kelly said the company simply believed the celebration had run its course.

"We are always looking for new and innovative ways to support Irish music and Irish artists and I think Guinness Amplify will do that," he said.

Guinness has invested €1m in the project, which will see up-and-coming bands perform in 500 different pubs around Ireland over five weekends.

The scheme will also include studio time for bands, surprise concerts featuring Kodaline and Ellie Goulding and master classes with industry experts such as Snow Patrol's Johnny Quinn and indie musician David Kitt.

Speaking at the launch, Steve Garrigan from Kodaline said he was delighted to be involved with Guinness's latest venture.

"It will help open doors," he said.

"We know first-hand the hard work that goes into launching a music career and this level of support is invaluable."

Factfile

Critics accused Arthur's Day of promoting binge-drinking and putting pressure on the emergency services. Singer Christy Moore called it an "alcoholiday", while Mike Scott of The Waterboys sang: "We'll reinforce the stereotype... that the Paddy is a guttersnipe on Arthur's Day." Belfast Telegraph columnist Eamonn McCann branded it a "stereotypical image of Ireland to create a phony occasion".

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