An innovative campaign to address the over indulgence of alcohol on the Twelfth of July in Belfast last year has been hailed as a “great success”.
The positive impact of the ‘It’s about the Battle, not the Bottle’ initiative has been outlined in an official report, launched at Belfast City Hall.
The summary document details a noticeable reduction in alcohol consumption and visible on-street drinking, making the 2016 demonstration one of the best in years with larger crowds than usual in attendance on the day.
An enhanced retail offering, along with on-street entertainment and food markets, ensured more tourists and visitors enjoyed the colour and pageantry of one of Europe’s largest annual street festivals, in the capital city.
As part of a major marketing drive leading up to last year’s Twelfth, a total of 20,000 leaflets outlining the responsible drinking message were distributed to members, bands and spectators. A similar amount of water bottles were distributed.
Several prominent billboards encouraging alcohol consumption in moderation, among other advertising, were also unveiled throughout the city.
The report confirms a marked decrease in retailers who witnessed on-street drinking (46 per cent compared to 66 per cent in 2015). Sixty-two per cent agreed a family friendly atmosphere had been created. The report also notes a 19 per cent increase in bed spaces sold in Belfast compared to the same period a year earlier.
Rev Mervyn Gibson of the Orangefest committee said the last year’s campaign marked a “successful start” to addressing the wider societal problem.
“The campaign was the next step in our strategy to enhance the Twelfth for everyone. Our report does not only convey the essence of the campaign but also in a way which is accessible and reader friendly.”
The senior Orangeman confirmed the message would also be apparent at this year’s celebrations. “Attitudes and habits will not be changed by one campaign,” he said. “Belfast County Grand Lodge, along with all our partners, look forward to building on last year’s progress to ensure the Twelfth becomes an enjoyable event for all those who live in and visit this great city.”
Outgoing Lord Mayor of Belfast, Brian Kingston, commended Orangefest and its associated partners for their efforts regarding alcohol misuse.
He said: “In addition to the health benefits the campaign championed, the tangible reduction in over indulgence of alcohol led to an even more enjoyable day for participants and spectators alike.
“This campaign contributed to a positive and prosperous Belfast for all its citizens.”
Copies of the report can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org