Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland nightclub condemned for promotion showing man 'passed out drunk'

Coach Nightclub in Banbridge used the image in a promotion for an A-Level results party
Coach Nightclub in Banbridge used the image in a promotion for an A-Level results party
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

A Northern Ireland nightclub has been criticised for advertising an A-Level results party with an image of a young man passed out drunk.

Coach Nightclub in Banbridge held the party on Thursday night after students across Northern Ireland received their A-Level exam results.

In their advertising for the party, the nightclub used a picture from the 2012 film "Project X".

It shows a young man lying on a patch of grass, spread-eagled and unconscious, with several empty cups scattered around him.

In a statement the nightclub said it encouraged responsible drinking.

On BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show on Friday, the club was criticised for encouraging drinking to excess.

DUP MLA Jim Wells, who does not speak for the party since having the whip removed, said the advertisement was "appalling" and he would be raising the issue with Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, which enforces licensing laws.

"The signal [Coach Nightclub] is sending out here is that you should drink yourself into the ground. I think this highlights the need for minimum unit pricing, which would stop this happening... This message is 'drink irresponsibly', and, if you're going out, drink until you fall flat on your face," he said.

"This is breaking every rule of the code of conduct for the drinks industry. This is sending out the wrong message to young people... Drink should be a social add-on.

"You have a few drinks and that's it. But this idea we have in Northern Ireland that you drink to get drunk, you drink to cause the maximum damage to your physical and mental health - it's just not on."

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, which represents Northern Ireland's hospitality industry, also condemned the image in the promotion, stating he has referred it to the Independent Complaints Panel for the industry’s Responsible Retailing Code.

“No promotion should encourage over-consumption or abuse of alcohol and licensees have a responsibility, both legal and moral, to ensure they promote the consumption of alcohol in a responsible way," he said.

“The constant evolution of social media platforms means that there is an even greater need to ensure staff and event promoters are fully aware of the Code and ensure all promotions are checked before publication.

“I have spoken with the chair of the Responsible Retailing Code, Duncan McCausland this morning, who has also taken the Nolan Show coverage of this promotion as a public complaint and that complaint will be brought before the Independent Complaints Panel next week."

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly described the Coach Nightclub's promotion as "shocking".

"We have crisis of alcohol abuse and addiction right across the north and to give the message to young people that the only way to celebrate success is to fall flat on your face drunk is beyond belief," she said.

"If you look at the obituary columns of our papers you will see many people dying as a consequence of alcohol and drug addiction and I just think it's absolutely shocking that a club would promote such behaviour."

In a statement to the Nolan Show, a Coach Nightclub spokesperson said: "At the Coach complex the safety of our patrons is our number one concern, the marketing around our Project X party is in keeping with the 2012 film of the same name, the image in question is taken from the film cover.

"While we understand the potential concern our staff are trained to identify when patrons have potentially over indulged, we have first aid staff on site at all times and we encourage responsible alcohol consumption i.e no time limited drink offerings, no sale of more that two spirit measures per serve etc."

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