MARYBOROUGH Catholic priest Paul Kelly wants pubfest banned.
MARYBOROUGH Catholic priest Paul Kelly wants pubfest banned.

Priest wants pub crawl banned

MARYBOROUGH Catholic priest Paul Kelly has called for the district’s biggest social get-together to be canned.

And Father Kelly is also asking for an “honest and independent survey” on the world-record-winning pub crawl-turned-fest, saying he may “hide under my bed” on the day.

Father Kelly’s comments are at odds with other Maryborough city churches which have agreed to take part in the event by handing out water and food and offering toilets.

Maryborough Ministers Fellowship deputy president Graham Slaughter confirmed that his group had struck a deal with the festival’s organising committee not to use the opportunity to criticise the event, or to use it as “an overt evangelism opportunity”.

Father Kelly’s ban call comes on the back of Liquor Licensing giving the festival the go-ahead for full strength beer.

“I am not a wowser. I go to pubs here with friends and enjoy a drink,” he said.

“I am not getting at the pubs but after observing part of the pub crawl last year I truly fear for the safety of people.

“The change of name and various additions over the years, such as more water, suggestions of lower strength alcohol, a charitable ‘cause’, etc, really are just trying to minimise the basic nature of the thing as a pub crawl, with all its negative connotations.

“This community does not need what is really still a pub crawl in spite of the council dressing it up as a festival and adding charities and church water stations.”

Father Kelly, who yesterday sent a protest email to Liquor Licensing in Brisbane, said he had told the Maryborough Ministers Fellowship that he wanted no part in a deal between the local churches and organising committee to supply toilets and water to festival goers.

MMF’s deputy president Reverend Graham Slaughter said yesterday his group supported the idea of supplying water, toilets and even food.

“It’s not an initiative of the fellowship but some churches in it and it has been discussed within the fellowship.

“Our idea is to help people and to be there.”

Father Kelly told the Chronicle the deal was “a cynical attempt to placate the churches”.

In an email to the MMF he wrote: “I don’t agree with this event in any way, shape or form and getting the churches to provide water support is, in my sincere view, a sop towards the churches. I believe it should be resisted.

“I think that criticism is due of the event and I would not like to confuse the matter by being involved in it.”

Father Kelly told the Chronicle it was time to start from scratch and invent a new, family-friendly Maryborough festival, “that promotes the wider community and leaves behind the whole pub crawl mentality”.

“It can promote the wider value of this town, with markets, churches, museums, restaurants. I am sure it’s something the pubs can get into without being the focus. It can have a charitable aspect, although rather than be involved in the fest I’ve just donated $60 to the Cancer Council.

“I believe there are a lot of people who have misgivings about this event but they don’t feel able to speak out because they get howled down by a vocal minority.”

Other businesses in town needed support but they were “not getting big festivals thrown at them”, he said.

Chair of the World’s Greatest Pub Fest councillor Anne Nioa said the fellowship “came to us, not us to them”.

“We were delighted to have them on board manning our hydration stations. We want people to hydrate as they migrate.

“Father Paul has never liked the pub crawl and I respect his opinion. Fifteen thousand people do like it so it will continue.”

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