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11 arrested over St Patrick's Day disorder in Belfast

Published 18/03/2016

Some instances of violence were reported across Belfast on St Patrick's Day
Some instances of violence were reported across Belfast on St Patrick's Day

Eleven people were arrested across Belfast in connection with St Patrick's Day disorder.

There was no repeat of the major drunken disturbances that marred festivities on Wednesday night, but there were some instances of violence on Thursday.

There was sporadic trouble in the Holyland student area and in the city centre.

On Wednesday night, police were attacked with bottles and other missiles in the Holyland when a street party involving around 300 young people descended into chaos. There were reports of pro-IRA songs being sung at the police by some of the revellers.

The Holylands, an area of heavily-populated terraced streets in south Belfast where thousands of college and university students live in multiple-occupancy homes, has witnessed similar scenes of disorder on past St Patrick's Days, with over-indulgence in alcohol the main factor.

Non-student residents in the area have demanded Stormont action on the recurring problem.

Queen's University and Ulster University issued a joint statement on Friday insisting the majority of troublemakers were not students, but other young people who had travelled to the area to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

The institutions said they were "very disappointed" at the public disorder.

"This societal problem is one which the universities and colleges commit significant time and resources to annually, both in educating, and if necessary, disciplining their students," said the statement.

"It was clear, however, that the majority of people in the area yesterday were not university or college students.

"We very much appreciate and value the sustained support from our partners, including the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland), residents and Belfast City Council. In addition, we require the support of parents in ensuring the consequences of such behaviour on their children's futures are made clear, not just to university and college students, but also to those of school age who are coming in to the Holyland area.

"The universities and colleges will continue to be robust in their disciplining of what is a minority of students who are engaging in this type of behaviour. Given the breadth of young people involved, we clearly need the full support and action of all stakeholders to effectively deal with this societal challenge going forward."

The PSNI said the 11 arrests were for a range of public order offences including disorderly behaviour, resisting arrest and assault on police.

Belfast Commander Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said: " Thankfully there was no repeat of the disgraceful levels of violence and behaviour that we saw in the Holylands on Wednesday, however there were numerous reports of anti-social, nuisance behaviour as well as sporadic instances of scuffles and fights among various groups of revellers, both in the 'student areas' and in the city centre.

"A significant police operation was in place to help ensure the festivities passed off in a largely peaceful fashion and, with the exception of a few, most people who attended the city centre parade, or who celebrated independently, did so in a good natured and respectful fashion.

"A clean-up operation will obviously take place today and, in due course, police along with partner agencies will review all of the planning for St Patrick's Day and its associated events and will take away whatever learning there is to improve the experience in future for residents and visitors alike."

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