Belfast nightclub's £1 drinks promotion fuels fresh concerns over booze culture
A Belfast city centre nightclub has been criticised for hosting a £1 drinks night due to take place during the upcoming bank holiday weekend.
Fourteen, which has previously been criticised for its weekly 60p spirits nights, has come under fire again over its plans for a 'Beach Club official reunion'.
Titanic area councillor and GP Dr John Kyle branded the "sound as a pound" nostalgia event as irresponsible and warned that events billed as a fun night out often end in tears.
"Acute alcohol intoxication has resulted in too many tragedies in recent years," he said.
"This sort of drinks promotion only increases the likelihood of more happening.
"It is irresponsible."
The club's owner Patrick Fegan, who is encouraging Facebook users to share an advert for the event featuring DJ Courty, DJ Jonny Barr and DJ Jonny Seeds, has defended the extremely low drink prices, which he insists are higher than in some off-licences.
He said the club sells drink at 60p on a Monday night but it adheres to the Responsible Retailing Code.
"We supply a safe environment to have a good night out in," he said.
Mr Fegan dismissed previous criticism of the club's 666 nights which attracted concern over the health and well-being of students last September.
"Still tuning (sic) almost a year later with no incidents, just lots of fun," he said.
The Tomb Street club is among a number of licensed premises in the city centre offering drinks promotions on various nights of the week.
Fat Wednesdays at Club Lux in the popular Cathedral Quarter serves up 90p drinks to revellers on a weekly basis.
It is currently promoting the offer to teenagers preparing to start university next month.
Organisers proudly declared the upcoming 'Big Fat Ice-Breaker' event as "the number one freshers welcome party".
However, when contacted by the Belfast Telegraph they did not reply with a comment.
It comes after the Coach nightclub in Banbridge came under fire for advertising an A-level results party, which took place last Thursday night, with an image of a scene from the 2012 film Project X depicting a young man lying face down, spread-eagled and unconscious surrounded by empty cups.
DUP MLA Jim Wells, who does not speak for the party since having the whip removed, branded the advert as "appalling".
Hospitality Ulster boss Colin Neill also condemned the image which he referred to the independent complaints panel for the industry's Responsible Retailing Code.
But a spokesperson for the nightclub insisted that trained staff put safety first.
While they acknowledged the "potential concern" they pointed to the fact that time-limited drink deals are not available at the club as an example of safeguarding measures implemented to protect patrons.
West Belfast GP and addiction expert Dr George O'Neill said the latest incidents serve as compelling arguments as to why minimum unit pricing should be introduced here.
"People who abuse alcohol the most are those who seek out the cheapest drink," he said. "We need to do more to educate our young people on this major societal and cultural problem.
"Around 12,000 people are admitted to hospital every year due to the effects of alcohol and our emergency departments are overpopulated every single weekend by those suffering the direct or indirect effects of alcohol," Dr O'Neill continued.
The Addiction NI chair said a minimum pricing structure would go a long way in tackling the "major problem" and warned that similar promotions only exacerbate the issue.