Belfast Telegraph

Poots hosts multi-agency meeting on major incident at Odyssey 

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Following the declaration of a major incident at the Odyssey Arena, Health Minister Edwin Poots has hosted a multi-agency meeting to look at preventative measures.

The Minister called the meeting to look at the circumstances leading up to the incident, the lessons to be learned and to look at what could be done differently to avoid a repeat. 

Speaking at the meeting, the Minister said: “I believe that the response to incident on 6 February at the Odyssey Arena – by the Ambulance Service, the Belfast Trust, and the volunteers on the ground from SOS Bus and other agencies – may well have helped to prevent the incident becoming a major tragedy.

“We now know the majority of those were suffering from the effects of consuming too much alcohol, though there may have been some drug misuse in a few of the cases. It appears that many young people turned up to the event ‘pre-loaded’ having drunk a significant amount of alcohol either at home or on the way to the venue and a number of those treated were under 16 years of age. 

“We need to understand where these young people got their alcohol from and if they were drinking on buses on the way to the event. I also think we have to look at how the event was policed and managed – especially given the fact that this concert was for those aged 16 and over.

“Accordingly I called for today’s multi-agency meeting to look at this incident critically and objectively, to discuss how it was managed and how we responded, to see if lessons can be learned, and lastly to decide if there are steps we can implement now to prevent something similar occurring again in the future.”

The multi-agency meeting was attended by representatives from the Department of the Environment, the Department of Justice, the Department of Social Development, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, The Odyssey, Pubs of Ulster, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the Public Health Agency.

Turning to minimum pricing of alcohol, Minister Poots said: “I am particularly concerned about the availability of alcohol at ‘pocket money prices’. I have commissioned research to model the impact of the introduction of minimum pricing for alcohol in Northern Ireland, and it is anticipated that this will be completed within the next few months. 

“When this report is analysed, I will take a decision, jointly with the Minister for Social Development, whether or not to proceed with appropriate legislation.” 

Notes to editor

Young People’s Drinking Stats:

· 46% of young people (aged 11-16) have taken an alcoholic drink.
· Of those who have ever had an alcoholic drink 49% were aged 13 or under when they had their first drink.
· 21% of pupils who have drunk alcohol got their last alcoholic drink from friends, 18% got it from their mother/father.
· The proportion of young people who reported getting drunk had fallen to 23% in 2010, compared to 33% in 2003.
· Alcohol misuse costs NI update to £900 million every year, with £250 million of these costs being borne by the Health Service

Deaths

· In 2012, provisional figures show that 270 people died directly as a result of alcohol misuse – an increase of 28 (or 11%) for the figures in 2011.
· Overall the number of deaths have increased since 2001 when we had 206 deaths – an increase of roughly 30%. 

Admissions

· 12,010 admissions to acute hospitals in 2010/11 with an alcohol related diagnosis.
· In 2010/11 there were 355 admissions to hospital for Liver Cirrhosis (up from 281 in 2005/06)
· It is estimated that one in six people attending accident and emergency departments for treatment have alcohol-related injuries or problems, rising to 8 out of 10 at peak times (i.e. weekends).

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