Holyland residents have welcomed commitments from the universities, student representatives and police to try to ensure that St Patrick’s Day passes off peacefully today (Thursday).
Ray Farley, chairman of the Holyland Residents’ Association, said: “I would like to thank all the different parties trying to ensure that students living in the Holyland area celebrate St Patrick’s day in a responsible manner. Student representatives, universities, churches in the area and the PSNI all gave commitments and we welcome this.
“There are plenty of events being put on in the city centre and I have been told the universities are planning events for students to attend.
“However it’s the tipping point I am still concerned about, when people have drunk one too many and things start turning ugly. The majority of students that live here are law abiding people, it’s their friends from the rest of the country that come to visit for the day that is a concern — having witnessed the results of the huge influx of people onto the streets.”
In a concentrated effort to reduce the dangers of a large volume of people drinking from glass bottles in the area, Trish Morgan from City Church and Catherine Curran from the Alliance Party have met with all the off licences in the community to agree a reduction in the number of glass bottles to be sold on the day.
Anna Lo MLA said: “I am pleased that we have managed to strike an agreement amongst off licences to help reduce the number of glass bottles in circulation in the area.
“St Patrick’s Day is for all and should be a safe and enjoyable day for everyone. This is why we have worked with the City Church in the area to secure this agreement.”
However, Ms Morgan from City Church was “disappointed” the supermarkets failed to engage in dialogue as they also have significant sales to the Holyland population.
Queen’s pro-vice-chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher urged students to respect their neighbours. “The message is simple to our students: enjoy the day and stay out of trouble.
“The university has been working intensively with key stakeholders to ensure students are fully aware of their responsibilities on the day and of the penalties they face for breaching these responsibilities,” he said.
“We ask that students enjoy the day, respect their neighbours and do not become involved in anti-social behaviour.
“If they do not take this advice then they risk getting a criminal record, being asked to leave the university and potentially ruining their career prospects.”