Northern Ireland

Special measures to deter St Patrick's student unrest

An ambulance, a police officers and a crowd of revellers in the Holyland Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Bottles were thrown at ambulances in the mainly-student Holyland area last year

Belfast students have been warned of an increased police presence on the streets ahead of the St Patrick's Day festivities.

Queen's University issued an email saying officers would be wearing personal cameras to collect evidence.

It follows street disturbances and anti-social behaviour in the Holyland area of south Belfast in recent years.

Duncan Morrow from Ulster University said: "The message has to be 'Stay away from the Holyland'.

"Anti-social behaviour will be severely disciplined if we get any evidence of it".

The area, lying to the rear of Queen's University, is dominated by Victorian housing divided into student accommodation.

Dr Morrow said sanctions "up to and including dismissal" could be applied.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The morning after St Patrick's Day in the Holyland area last year

Five off-licences in Holyland area are to close "voluntarily" for a number of hours on St Patrick's Day.

The university insists that the majority of those who have traditionally travelled to the mainly-student area of the city on St Patrick's Day are post-primary pupils or non-students.

350 complaints against students

One student interviewed for BBC Radio Ulster said people's behaviour was affected by alcohol.

"Obviously when the drink's in, the wit's out, but I would say that 99% of students obviously behave themselves," he said.

The two universities are giving students the day off on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as "reading days".

Queen's representatives have visited more than 200 student houses in the area where they know QUB students live, and have made preventative presentations in post-primary schools.

The two universities have investigated 350 cases of complaints against students since the beginning of term, and all those students have been given at least a warning about their conduct.

The police have said that University Avenue, Carmel Street and Agincourt Avenue are to be kept clear from Thursday afternoon to allow for emergency access.

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