Belfast Telegraph

Posing for photos at the 9/11 memorial with a sex doll is proof of how tacky hen and stag parties have become

By Lindy McDowell

Has civilisation not now, in 2016, finally reached a point where we can consign to history something which, like cock fighting and dunking witches in the village pond, has really, truly had its day?

The stag party. And/or hen party.

The stag (hen) party isn't even a party any more. What once was limited to one mad night out has been extended to a weekend - sometimes a full week - of excess accessorised with the usual compulsory add-ons of bra and stilettos for the groom-to-be, veil and sash for the bride-to-be and lurid inflatables to be carted around town by accompanying stags and hens.

Many of which are well past the spring chicken stage.

Now I am no party pooper. Honestly. Show me a bar, a gathering, any sort of social occasion and I'm your woman. I like a bit of fun. I can be stupid and inappropriate as well as the next reveller. I'm also a big believer in live and let live. Even if it's not my cup of West Coast Cooler.

But there is something about the awful, organised tackiness of some stag and hen dos that takes cringey to a new low.

You see them walking around town quite often now since Belfast, in particular, has become a bit of a Mecca (if that's not an inappropriate word) for visiting stags and hens.

Like a pre-marital Pied Piper, the bride-to-be (she's the one in the veil) will lead her chesty, tottering companions around the bars. The young ones aren't the worst.

I'm sorry if this sounds ageist, but some of the more, shall we say, mature hens really do need to take a look at themselves.

I'm not calling for a return to Victorian decorum. But let's just say the French maid's outfit in Extra Short is not universally flattering. Nor is the commemorative skintight T-shirt with pink sash.

But to be fair, so far, so harmless. These visiting teams do bring in business for the local hospitality sector. And as I say, each to their own. Not all hen/stag parties descend into scumbag behaviour.

But some do.

Take the party of young men who, with the groom-to-be toting a sex doll under one arm, posed for photographs this week, as you do, at the memorial to 9/11.

Smirking and leaning across the engraved names of some of the thousands who lost their lives in America's worst terrorist atrocity, they snapped the obligatory selfies.

What a laugh, eh boys?

There's a pic you'd be proud to one day show the grandchildren.

Bearing in mind that this was on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the attack it's almost impossible to think of anything more casually offensive.

Police officers on the scene asked them to leave. Pronto. Reports suggest that they were a group of bank workers. (Possibly English). They looked well-heeled, well-educated.

So what possessed them to think this was in any way acceptable behaviour?

Oh, that's right. They were on a stag do.

Increasingly a celebration of your last days of singledom is now translated - by some anyway - as carte blanche to act the maggot and cause real offence. Walk around the city streets with a sex doll under your arm regardless of young families. Pose with it at what many would regard as a sacred place of remembrance.

The story has inevitably been given considerable coverage in US newspapers (although while we are on the subject of showing respect for terrorist victims, the New York media might consider sparing a few paragraphs of condemnation for the Irish Car Bomb cocktail widely available in Irish American bars. This also causes some offence.)

True, not all stags, and hens, lose the run of themselves so entirely in the belief that their right to party eclipses normal sensitivity and decency.

But too many of them do.

Politicians cop it from former police boss

Amid all the verbosity about what the public want from policing, former ACC Alan McQuillan, as plain-speaking a public servant as we've ever had in these parts, sums it up in five succinct words.

People want criminals dealt with, he says. Robert Peel couldn't have put it better himself.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, McQuillan adds, regarding paramilitaries: "All the tools exist to tackle the problem, but is the political will there? That's the question that jumps out at me." It jumps out at a lot of us, Alan.

Race to be president best drama on the box

Say what you will about the calibre of the two main candidates in the race to be next US president. But in action-packed entertainment terms, the campaign has been a real humdinger. Insults, abuse, email-leaking, Mexican-wall building. Hillary (left) calling his voters deplorables. Trump making outrageous threats.

And now, Hillary's weekend wobbly put down to pneumonia. Why did she cover it up? Has she infected others?

For plot-twist and drama, it's soap opera meets reality TV.

I'm a democracy, get me out of here.

Belfast Telegraph


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