Video footage of swathes of young people partying on Killarney’s streets have prompted furious public outcry, and local political representatives have called for an investigation into who the young people videoed are and where they socialised prior to the outrageous scenes.
illarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce has said the videos – one of which shows a group of young people, believed to be in the region of 100 individuals, gathered on Main Street, singing and dancing – resulted in untold reputational damage to the town.
One video, viewed by over 500,000 people, shows two males climbing onto the top of a phone box housing vital, life-saving defibrillator equipment, with one of the two men stripping down to his underwear.
There was little or no social distancing captured on camera, and Gardaí say that many in the group were extremely intoxicated. The video was recorded by a local man who was shocked by the behaviour of the young people, who appear to be breaking COVID-19 guidelines. Since the video first emerged in the early hours of Sunday morning, it has been viewed by hundreds of thousands across the world and made international headlines.
A second video, also of scenes in Killarney town on Saturday night, appears to show individuals fighting, with several punches thrown on College Street. This video, too, has been shared widely.
Cathaoirleach of Killarney Municipal District, Cllr Brendan Cronin, has called for a meeting with gardaí and is urging anyone who has information on the group to inform gardaí. No arrests have been made, and Gardaí say their investigation continues into public-order breaches.
“This is a body blow to a great town, but we can’t allow this behaviour to destroy our great work,” said Cllr Cronin who added: “this is showing two fingers to those who have put time in to make Killarney safe”.
“The central guys are clearly visible, so I am pleading for information to identify the main players – who are they and which premises did they come from?”
The videos are also seen as a blow to publicans of ‘wet’ bars who remain closed in the tourist town. Alan Breen of Jimmy Brien’s Bar, which remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, has condemned the actions of the young people videoed, saying their actions were ‘detrimental’ to those pubs who are still not allowed open.
“It is a slap in the face to us,” he said.
“I see those videos circulating and I’m closed… This was well after 11.30pm and we are being nailed and we did nothing wrong.”
Councillor and local publican Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan has called for extra powers for gardaí to police licensed premises.
He said proving that people are staying on the premises too long or not having food is very difficult, however.
“Every law-abiding publican would welcome more powers for gardaí…We want them to be able to shut down those who disrespect the law… An investigation should take place as to where this group were.”