PSNI will ‘deal robustly’ with anyone ‘stepping out of line’ during Holyland celebrations

Students warned over Paddy’s Day

By Staff Reporter

Students in South Belfast are being warned by the PSNI that anyone engaging in anti-social behaviour during the St Patrick’s celebrations could face prosecution and damage to their future reputation.

Police chiefs have been working with Belfast City Council, Queen’s University and University of Ulster to ensure that those intending to stay in student populated areas are aware of the consequences of breaking the law and the negative effects such behaviour can have on career and travel plans.

Previous St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the Holyland area of South Belfast have seen widespread disruption to long-term residents and in some cases, serious rioting.

Chief Inspector Gabriel Moran, PSNI Area Commander for South Belfast said anyone “stepping out of line” will be robustly dealt with.

“Anyone wishing to visit South Belfast to celebrate St Patrick’s Day peacefully and without causing disruption is encouraged to do so and I hope they thoroughly enjoy all the events planned over that weekend,” he said. “But be assured, we will robustly deal with anyone stepping out of line.”

“Those planning parties must consider the wishes of those living nearby and should not create excessive noise or become involved in anti-social behaviour. They must conduct themselves lawfully and with respect to others at all times,” said Chief Inspector Moran.

He added that those intent on causing trouble should remember that a criminal record stays for life.

Queen’s University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tony Gallagher said Queen’s was once again encouraging its students to spend the St Patrick’s weekend away from the Holyland district, a policy introduced last year after severe disruption over the Saint Patrick’s Day period the year before.

“While last year saw a significant reduction in the number of young people in the area at that time we cannot become complacent and for those who choose to come to the Holyland and become involved in anti-social behaviour there will be consequences.

“In recent weeks representatives from Queen’s have visited secondary schools across Northern Ireland to encourage these students to also stay at home. Both Queen’s and University of Ulster have given its students the day off on Friday 15 March and both institutions will be closed on Monday 18 March, therefore the message is very clear – do not come to the Holyland for St Patrick’s weekend.”

Professor Alastair Adair, Provost, Ulster University Jordanstown and Belfast said: “In the interests of good community relations we are asking all students in South Belfast to go home over St Patrick’s Day and anyone who wishes to remain should be respectful and considerate of local residents during the celebtrations”.

Councillor Pat McCarthy, chairman of Belfast City Council’s Health and Environmental Services Committee, said:

“This year we’ve extended our annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations to a four day festival and we’re encouraging families to come in to the city and enjoy what’s on offer, including the parade and concert at Custom House Square.

“What we don’t want is for these celebrations to be marred by a minority of people engaged in irresponsible behaviour. The problems associated with the Holyland and wider university area are well-documented and we continue to work with the PSNI and other agencies to ensure that St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the area pass off with as little disruption to residents as possible. Every year we appeal to people to show respect for each other and their neighbours; I would repeat that appeal again this year and ask people to think about the consequences of their behaviour.”

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