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Jason Johnson Ulsterman of the People: We should prepare for more deaths in the sun.

Byline: Jason Johnson

EVERY night thousands of young Ulster folk are at risk abroad.

They take their life in their hands when they step out on holiday in places like Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Ibiza.

It sounds over the top, but it's basic common sense.

What more proof do you need than the brutal death of young Paddy Doran in Faliraki, Rhodes last week?

The Belfast-born lad, aged just 17, was glassed in the neck.

He lost massive amounts of blood and died in the very place where he was supposed to be having the time of his life.

Death is all around us all the time, but this savage loss of life was especially depressing.

No one is supposed to die at that young age and I imagine that the person who killed him didn't really mean to do it.

When the drink's in, wit's out.

In places like Faliraki, there's more drink and less wit than you've ever seen before.

I've been in the Q Club, the place where Paddy met his death.

It's on Club Street in the purpose-built, tacky holiday town on an otherwise idyllic island.

Club Street intersects with Bar Street (I'm not making this up) and both of them lead, in a roundabout way, back to each other.

Q Club is one of the bigger nightspots, sprawling far back off the road with an upper deck, about four bars and buckets and buckets of dirt drinks.

In fact the drinks are so cheap that, like elsewhere in Faliraki, you can buy them in 'fishbowls'.

Fishbowls come in different weights and sizes, but basically they're a cocktail of cheap booze in a big bowl with a load of straws stuffed into it.

There are fishbowls you can buy for two.

And there are fishbowls so large that they have to wheel them out on a trolley.

In Q Club people dance in cages, girls wear next to nothing, music makes your skull vibrate and people shout their heads off at the bar.

It can be a great place for a night out.

We had a whale of a time on our first and last night in the town while staying in Rhodes.

We downed loads of green, semi-solid cheap drinks, sang along to some crap or other and got along the best with every stranger we met.

The bleary atmosphere was charged but friendly, unpredictable but exciting.

But then that was just one of 100 nights when Faliraki goes nuts in summer.

Now and then, there's bound to be the odd nutter who starts something.

The place is packed with lads on holiday, racing each other at the bar as the competition kicks in.

They do it for two weeks at a time, outdrinking and outsunning each other.

It's no wonder brains can get a bit mushy and that the wit does a vanishing act.

Inevitably people confront each other over something stupid- a girl, a drink, a funny look - and things suddenly go too far.

As these sorts of bars and resorts fight it out against each other to get more tourists, the drinks get cheaper, the hours get longer, the music gets crazier and the recipe for trouble just keeps on cooking.

Sadly Paddy Doran is a victim of his night in Faliraki as much as he is a victim of the person who killed him.

These places are magnificent and mad at the same time.

If you're 17 years old, that's an unbeatable attraction.

My heart really does go out to Paddy's grieving family today and I'm not alone.

Yet it was only a matter of time before one of our youngsters died in a place like that.

We should get used to the idea that there will be more of these terrible deaths in resorts like Faliraki.


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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Aug 17, 2003
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