The Sunday Times September 03, 2006

Civil servant harassed for taking medicine to rock gig

Mark Tighe

A SENIOR civil servant and his fiancée have complained about MCD, the concert promoter, to the Equality Tribunal after the company’s security staff allegedly accused them of being drug dealers.Shane McCarrick, an executive officer in the Department of Agriculture, suffers from Crohn’s disease, a condition that requires him to take steroid tablets at three-hour intervals. His fiancée has type one diabetes and requires regular injections of insulin and carbohydrates in the form of fruit drinks.


The couple say that at the entrance to an REM concert in Balbriggan in June 2005, MCD security staff emptied McCarrick’s bag of drinks and medication on the ground and said the couple would be arrested for drug dealing.

“They said I was a dealer because my bag was full of prescription drugs,” said McCarrick. “They accused my fiancée of planning to inject drugs with her insulin needle. I’ve never before been harassed and embarrassed in front of other people like this.”

McCarrick said the security staff ignored the couple’s civil service identification cards and doctors’ letters that explained their need for medication. They were also unhappy at security staff removing the caps from their drinks — something done at concerts to prevent bottles being used as missiles. The couple were questioned for 30 minutes by security staff. MCD later arranged for them to attend a Coldplay concert by way of compensation for the inconvenience.

But McCarrick said security staff at the Coldplay concert in Marlay Park also asked them to wait in a medical tent to meet with an event controller.

“We didn’t know why she wanted to meet us, but we waited for over an hour before her assistant turned up,” said McCarrick. “She then asked us to detail what happened at the REM concert, but couldn’t hear us because we were so close to the stage. We ended up missing a large part of the show.”

MCD offered the couple six pairs of tickets to any show of their choosing after McCarrick threatened to bring a case for compensation to the small claims court. The civil servant no longer wants compensation but an admission that MCD mistreated him.

He decided to bring his case to the Equality Tribunal after being refused permission to talk about it on boards.ie, an internet forum. The website has banned all discussion of MCD events after the company sued it for hosting an alleged defamatory comment about security at the Oxegen festival in July.

Sophie Ridley, MCD’s event controller, said security staff stopped the couple because their “tablets and other substances” were not clearly identifiable. MCD was surprised the case had been put in the hands of lawyers, Ridley said, as the company believed the matter had been handled satisfactorily and “all proper procedures had been followed”.

Anna Clarke of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland says there is widespread discrimination against diabetics and people with serious medical conditions. “Security taking bottle caps from a diabetic person is simply discrimination,” she said. “It comes from a lack of awareness as to what diabetes is and that some diabetics need to carry carbohydrates at all times.

“A note from a doctor should always be enough to explain this.”

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