Belfast Telegraph

Holyland off-licences shut for St Patrick's Day

By Claire O'Boyle

Off-licences across the Holyland area of Belfast have agreed to close for St Patrick's Day to keep loutish behaviour to a minimum.

Businesses in the south Belfast area, which has become a trouble hotspot on March 17 for a number of years, signed up to the voluntary booze ban as police warned they would confiscate alcohol from anyone seen drinking in the street.

Superintendent Melanie Jones said: "We are expecting a large number of visitors to the city on Friday to enjoy the carnival and family-friendly atmosphere. We will have an operation in place in conjunction with our partners to help everyone enjoy the day safely and legally.

"In the past, over-indulgence in alcohol has led some people to act in a way they would never do when sober. This has previously resulted in assaults, damage to property and annoyance to others and we are making it clear that this behaviour is not acceptable. We will be working alongside Belfast City Council and in South Belfast, with Queen's University and Ulster University, the Belfast Met and local schools, who will again proactively encourage young people to stay off the streets of the Holyland on St Patrick's Day. We are planning joint enforcement patrols with Belfast City Council's Antisocial Behaviour Officers to seize alcohol from anyone drinking in the street and to minimise antisocial behaviour in general."

Colin Neill, CEO, Hospitality Ulster, said: "I have sympathy with residents of the Holyland, who have been subjected to unacceptable behaviour on St Patrick's Day, year after year. However, I also have sympathy for the local off-sales and commend them for voluntarily agreeing to close.

"We know that this is only one element to the so-called 'street-party' problem and the majority of alcohol is most likely purchased in supermarkets at rock bottom prices in the days leading up to the event. I call on the supermarkets to match the actions of the local off-sales and stop deliveries of alcohol into the Holyland area on St Patrick's Day and the day before."

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