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of the British Broadcasting Corporation

 

 

Thursday, 1 November 2007, 11:59 GMT
Carnival future 'needs examining'


An assembly member has said the future of Halloween festivities in Londonderry should be examined.

It follows the arrest of 30 people in Derry during Wednesday's celebrations.

Altnaglevin Hospital dealt with 60 cases of people needing treatment, many of them involving alcohol. Several people had to be kept in overnight.

Foyle assembly member Pat Ramsey said organisers must consider whether the event is in the interests of everyone and should examine the celebration.

"I don't think I would have peace of mind... if somebody was to be killed or died as a result of a Halloween event," he said.

"I don't want to be responsible to some parent whose, 10, 11 or 12-year-old son or daughter feels it's OK, because everyone else is doing it at Halloween."

Accident and Emergency consultant at Altnagelvin Alan McKinney said alcohol was largely responsible for the number of cases.

"It was the single most important factor - as it always is," he said.

Fireworks

"We could probably close most A and E departments at 10 o'clock at night if it wasn't for alcohol.

"And certainly at Halloween, if the alcohol factor was removed, it would be an average normal night."

In Belfast three people were treated in hospital for minor fireworks injuries.

The Fire and Rescue Service received nearly 500 calls for help on Halloween night - one every 45 seconds over a seven hour period.

It said gorse and bonfires accounted for most incidents, with the numbers being slightly down on last year.

In the most serious incident, eight cars were damaged in a fire at a garage on the Ballynakilly Road in Coalisland.

Five appliances were also needed to deal with a serious fire at a derelict social club at Peter's Hill in Belfast.

More than 40% of calls originated from the south-east of Northern Ireland, the service said.

It added that while large crowds had gathered at a number of bonfire locations there were no attacks on appliances or crews attending calls.

Meanwhile, firefighters in Kilkeel in County Down had to respond to more call outs on Wednesday night than they usually deal with in a month.

They tackled more than 70 incidents.

It is believed many of them, including gorse fires, were started deliberately.

Fire crews were called in from Warrenpoint and Newcastle to cope with the demand.

A spokesman for the fire service condemned the culture of young people lighting fires in the area.