Currently, the Students’ Union are hoping to launch the event this on Thursday, April 18th, with a limited number of early bird tickets going on sale at the reduced rate of €25. Full price tickets will be available for €35, a reduction in price from last year’s €39.99.
Though the Union have publicly announced that the Ball is to go ahead, UCD Students’ Union President, Rachel Breslin is hesitant to reveal the full details of the venue and line-up until final confirmations have been made. She commented: “Plans are currently in the final phase and rather than drip-feeding information, we want to launch all at once so people know exactly what is happening. When we had the basic confirmations and enough to absolutely guarantee to students we would be organising a UCD Ball, we released the information at council so students could book time off work, plan etc.”
Breslin is clear that herself and Entertainments Officer Eoin Heffernan exhausted every option before moving the event to off-campus. She says: “There essentially was no decision to hold a ball off-campus, we pursued every avenue to hold it on campus for seven months and unfortunately a number of factors combined to leave no chance of an on-campus ball.”
These factors are similar to those that fed into the many concerns raised throughout the year that a Ball would not take place this year at all, as reports emerged that location and licensing issues were causing problems for the SU. Breslin explained: “Our issues within UCD were resolvable and the President gave his approval for the Ball so we were able to secure a site but ultimately the Gardai did not feel that it was safe to have the Ball on campus and that we must move to an indoor venue.”
The Gardai’s objections to granting an alcohol licence were based on the alcohol consumption at the previous Balls, coupled with dangers surrounding the N11 flyover being the only entrance to the Ball. Though Breslin states that the Union presented alternatives to “try and reduce these risks”, the Gardai sent written notice of an objection to the plans on March 27th. She says: “The event had grown in scale while available space on campus had reduced, commercial activities on campus had increased and this year there are much more onerous obligations imposed on outdoor concerts following incidents last summer.”
With regards to alcohol consumption at this year’s event, Breslin clearly stated: “There will be thorough security checks at the entrance to the venue, and its’ simple: if you’re too drunk you won’t get in. We still want everyone to have a great time and to celebrate the last day with their friends but if you’re a danger to yourself or others there is a line.”
The Union has been pleased with the reactions from Council to the news, and says: “ It’s a challenge but the SU are excited about the Ball and spurred on by the fantastic reaction… The absence of a bar this year has made the Ball even more of an important social-event and despite all the problems and setbacks we encountered it made us more determined to give students a Ball.”
Commenting on the future of the event, Breslin is unsure whether it will return to campus, citing a number of issues that would need to be resolved first, such as student behaviour and alcohol consumption. She says: “Next year Ents will have to think outside the box when looking at options right from the beginning of the year and work closely with UCD and the Gardai to find the best solution for everyone.”