An old woman’s teeth were ‘knocked out’ when she was punched in the face during a fight at an Irish center following Manchester’s St Patrick’s Day parade.
The Irish World Heritage Center has now had its alcohol license suspended pending a full review which is scheduled to take place in three weeks’ time. A video of the ‘violent brawl’ at the venue in Cheetham Hill was presented as evidence at a public hearing this week – but police have refused to release it.
The CCTV footage shows a man with blood running down his face, some people throwing chairs and an ‘elderly female’ being punched in the face. The woman, understood to have been an NHS volunteer who helped with the vaccination programme, had her teeth ‘knocked out’, a police officer said.
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PC Stuart Hammersley told the licensing panel that the ‘older lady’ appears to approach one of the men who was fighting before being punched in the face. The licensing panel suspended the premises license pending a full review.
Activities at the venue will continue for the time being, but the bar will be closed with all booze now ‘locked away’, according to sources at the centre. However, one senior figure said the temporary booze ban will be ‘catastrophic’ for the venue where several functions are planned over the next three weeks.
Speaking at a Manchester council licensing hearing on Monday (March 21), trustee Martin Connolly said the center had hosted a St Patrick’s Day parade on the day of the incident – but it closed last weekend to avoid further trouble. He said: “It was a peaceful event, as it’s always been for the last 25 years we’ve been running the parade. We’ve never, ever, ever had incidents on parade day.”
Officers were called to the center off Queens Road at around 11pm after reports of ‘over 40 travelers fighting’ and throwing chairs and glasses. There were also reports of vehicles crashing into each other in the car park.
The incident was brought under control by 11.22pm, according to the police report, and officers started sweeping the building to look for injured victims. Police were called to the venue again on St Patrick’s night, Thursday, March 17.
Connolly explained that the center was struggling to remove members of the traveler community from the venue and needed assistance from the police. He said: “Door staff couldn’t move them, management couldn’t move them – they were not moving. That’s when we called Greater Manchester Police. You were there in five minutes and we’re very, very grateful that you got them out.”
The premises have been closed since then and had planned to remain closed until after the funeral of Paddy Sharp takes place on Wednesday (March 23). However, the decision by the panel to suspend the license means the premises must stay shut until a full licensing review is heard on April 12.
PC Stuart Hammersley explained why GMP wanted the license to be reviewed. He said: “The license as it is, the conditions on there don’t help guide the premises to managing incidents properly or prevent issues from happening and the fact that we had to be called back in the time since this first incident to another incident involving large groups, we’d suggest that the premises is struggling to manage having large groups on the premises. .”
The panel accepted the evidence from GMP and raised ‘real concerns’ concerns that there is a ‘real risk of reprisal’ if the center remains open.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.