Belfast nightclub's 60p drinks offer for students condemned
A Belfast nightclub has come under fire for a student night drinks promotion offering bottles, spirits, mixers and shots for as little as 60p each.
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Aiming to cash in as university students return to the city after the summer break, Fourteen in Tomb Street launched the '666' promotion last night - a day after drunken students wreaked havoc around the Holylands at the start of Freshers Week.
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It is understood a complaint was sent to Belfast councillors, though the city council said it has no powers concerning the pricing of drinks, as it is essentially a liquor licensing issue.
Belfast DUP councillor Graham Craig, though, condemned the promotion as "irresponsible".
Mr Craig said: "I am deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of those coming to university for the first time, who are now being targeted by such irresponsible promotions and marketing activity that has long since ceased among the vast majority of publicans.
"This promotion was brought to my attention by a constituent whose daughter will be starting at Ulster University this month.
"She was appalled that such an alcohol promotion is allowed to happen in this city.
"University is a time when young adults are finding their way in the world without the guidance of parents. Developing a healthy and responsible attitude to alcohol is a part of this growing up process.
"Thankfully, most publicans now refrain from cheap alcohol promotions. It is disappointing to see that this responsible attitude is not universally adhered to.
"On request from myself and a number of other councillors the issue will also be discussed at the meeting of the Belfast City Council Licensing Committee on Wednesday."
Nightclub owner Patrick Fegan defended the student night, saying that the club is offering nothing different to any other student city in across the UK:
"I would urge anyone who has a complaint to take this into perspective," he said.
"What we're offering is a good night out in Belfast for students in a controlled environment. All our staff have gone through drink awareness training and there are many other drinks promotions going on at clubs and pubs around the city at various times of the year without much of a fuss. Perhaps, instead of looking at the individual entrepreneur, our politicians should look at the pricing policy of some of the big supermarkets, where anyone can get their alcohol for a lot cheaper and take it wherever they want, away from a controlled environment.
"We don't let anyone through the door who turns up drunk and we have a priority bookings policy with a local taxi firm to make sure everyone gets home safely.
"Sometimes I think this country is run by dinosaurs who are quick to pick out an easy individual target and not stand up to some of the major companies who are destroying the licensing trade and selling drink at ridiculously low prices."
The Public Health Authority has previously warned over the dangers of drinks promotions.
"Promotions like these encourage people to drink more alcohol in a shorter amount of time, which increases the risk to their health," it said. "It also means they are more likely to have accidents, more likely to be a victim (or perpetrator) of assault, and more likely to have unsafe sex.
"How much people drink is related to the price of alcohol, and it is no surprise when we see how much more affordable alcohol has become in recent years, that 4/5 of adults who drink alcohol drink above sensible drinking guidelines."