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28 arrested as festival frolics go gaga

Arrests up as festival frolics go gaga

Organisers ‘very happy’ with festival but young boy lucky to escape injury after being pushed through window

Áine Ryan

LADY Gaga Monster Ball may have wowed the crowds at Westport’s Music Festival on Saturday night with her hit Bad Kids but it was the town‘s gardaí who had to deal with over 50 incidents, leading to 28 arrests for minor assaults, criminal damage and a variety of public order incidents.
Two daredevils, who obviously don’s suffer from vertigo, also came to the attention of the gardaí after they attempted to climb the Clock.  
And yesterday there was one longtime shop-owner still picking up the pieces after a young man, involved in a major fracas, in the early hours of Sunday morning, was hurled through her window on Bridge Street during a punch-up, which according to witnesses, involved around ten young men.
Speaking to The Mayo News last night, Antoinette Turpin, who co-owns craft and design shop, O’Reilly and Turpin,  said she was ‘very shocked and upset’ still.
“It is a disaster. Our window was boarded up today at the height of the tourist season. We are so relieved though that the young person who was pushed in through the window is not seriously injured or even dead. It was a most terrifying incident because the glass is very old plate-glass and the broken shards could have been lethal,” Antoinette Turpin said.
She explained that herself and her husband, Donal, drove into Westport after an adjacent restaurant owner phoned them in the early hours of Sunday morning to say there had been a fracas outside the shop and that a young man had fallen through the window during a punch-up.

Incidents up on 2010
Superintendent Mick Murray confirmed to The Mayo News that there had been a number of arrests relating to this incident. He also revealed that a number of cars had been criminally damaged on Altamont Street over the weekend.
“The number of reported incidents over the weekend is marginally up on last year. They mainly involved public order, criminal damage and minor assaults. There was also a drink driving charge and one possession of drugs. We were very well prepared and managed our resources well. When last weekend, I realised that the numbers were down for the Reek Sunday pilgrimage, I stood down some of the gardaí on duty and rostered them instead for the weekend of the music festival. There were 15 gardaí on mobile patrol and they were supported by three Reserve gardaí.”
Supt Murray stressed that all the incidents occurred after the festival gigs were over.
“The Westport Music Festival is a family-friendly event and the vast majority of people act within the law and enjoy the festivities. It is a shame a very small minority takes away from this great atmosphere and spirit of enjoyment,” Supt Murray said.
He added that, as far as he was aware, there had been no complaints by local residents.   

Festival success
ORGANISER, Dick Bourke told The Mayo News yesterday he was ‘very happy’ with how this year’s festival ran.
“We made an appeal to the public to contribute a small amount of money to our buckets and they really responded generously. We are delighted and we received a huge amount of positive feedback from the many visitors who attended from all over the country and the UK.”
He continued: “The atmosphere was really great and the Heritage Day in particular stood out this year. I believe that up to 14,000 people attended the heritage events while lots more enjoyed and danced to the music of the Matt Cunningham Céilí Band on Sunday afternoon.”
He said that a busload of Lady Gaga fans had travelled from Waterford to attend the Lady Gaga Monster Ball Look-A-Like tour.
“This whole family-friendly event could not have happened without the support of local businesses who really pulled out the stops to ensure its success. We really have to thank our many sponsors and are already planning for next year.”

Louisburgh native, Eilís McDonagh, a student at University of Limerick, said there was ‘a really good atmosphere in the town’.
“I think the festival is a positive thing for Westport but I would love if there was more of a focus on up-and-coming young bands and that the festival offered them a showcase.”
Her friend, Dervla Kelly from Westport, a third-level student at GMIT, agreed.
She also said: “I think it would be good if there were more music festivals all year-round. It was great to see people of all ages gathering together to enjoy themselves. Of course, it would be more successful if the weather was better.”

Climbing the Clock
Older people are usually expected to lead the way by example but it was a young male adult who first tried to climb the iconic Clock in the town centre during festivities at the weekend.  Later a man, believed to be in his forties, also attempted the dangerous feat. Both men were arrested and warned by gardaí of the potential fatalities they could have incurred to both themselves and others during their late night pranks.