Northern Ireland

Concert-goers fall ill at Hardwell gig in Belfast's Odyssey

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Media captionSeveral ambulances were called to the Odyssey Arena in Belfast

Dozens of young people have been treated by paramedics after becoming ill at a concert venue in Belfast.

Fifteen people were taken to two hospitals in the city to be treated for the effects of alcohol and drugs

No-one was seriously injured. Thousands of people were at Dutch DJ Hardwell's concert at the Odyssey Arena.

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said many of those treated by paramedics were already intoxicated when they arrived at the venue.

'Major incident'

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dutch DJ Hardwell was performing at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast

John McPoland said paramedics treated two people who were "in an unconscious state".

The service declared the scene as a "major incident" on Thursday evening.

"We believe the majority arrived suffering from too much alcohol," Mr McPoland said.

"We declared a major incident because of the number of resources we had to deploy to the scene."

A police spokesman said a number of young people, "believed to be in excess of 20", were treated inside the venue. He said police enquiries were continuing.

Refused entry

A spokesman for the Odyssey Arena, Adrian Doyle, said: "It is our understanding that a number of patrons arriving to attend a concert by Dutch DJ act Hardwell have required medical attention, having already been intoxicated on their arrival at the complex.

"These patrons were not granted entry to the Odyssey Arena, and were treated by the Ambulance Service outside."

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The Ambulance Service said some people arrived at the venue intoxicated

Dr Tony Stephens of the Belfast Health Trust said the 15 patients who had been admitted to the Royal Victoria and Mater Hospitals' emergency departments were in a stable condition.

"Our specialist teams and support staff have come in and we've been able to manage this really effectively," he said.

"We've created capacity on our wards to look after these patients and it has been a great effort from all our staff."

Belfast Health Trust has set up an emergency telephone number for people concerned about friends or relatives: 028 9063 8131.


Among those attending the concert was Scott McBride, who said a number of people were being sick as he arrived at the venue.

"Everywhere you looked, you were guaranteed to see someone who was ill or on their way," he said.

"One of the guys in particular I saw was sitting in his own vomit against a wall and struggling to keep his eyes straight."

Image copyright BBC (Peter Coulter)
Image caption Some of the young patients were treated in A&E at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital on Thursday night

Many parents of the young people who were attending the over-16s concert could not get in touch with their children while the event was taking place.


As the concert was coming to an end at about 23:00 GMT, large numbers of concerned parents arrived at the Odyssey and waited outside.

A spokesman for a watchdog set up to investigate complaints about irresponsible alcohol promotions said the events were "shocking".

Duncan McCausland of the Independent Complaints Panel for the Responsible Retailing of Alcohol Code said: "I would call on those selling alcohol to make sure they are not selling it to people who are underage.

"I would also urge parents to exercise parental control and make sure that young people are not drinking excessively at home before going on a night out."

'Great risk'

Colin Neill of trade body Pubs of Ulster said he was "extremely concerned", and urged bar staff to be extra vigilant for underage drinkers.

"Pre-loading at home before going out is dangerous and can lead to unintended consequences with people putting themselves at great risk," he said.

"Parents must stop under 18s getting access to drink, and licensees should check ID and exercise extreme caution at all times."

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