Belfast Telegraph

St Patrick's Day Belfast: Eleven arrests in Holylands and city centre

Police to review St Patrick's Day event planning

By Claire Williamson

Eleven people were arrested in Belfast city centre and the Holylands area on St Patrick's Day.

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

Trouble flared in the Holylands area in the early hours of St Patrick's Day where more than 300 revellers gathered.

A police officer was injured when a bottle was thrown during the disturbances which lasted for more than two hours.

Hundreds more gathered again on Thursday night in the south Belfast area.

A clean-up operation was underway on Friday morning.

UNIVERSITY JOINT STATEMENT

In a joint statement Queen's University Belfast and Ulster University said they will be "robust" in disciplining the "minority of students" engaging in the behaviour which they expressed "disappointment" at.

"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. 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, residents and Belfast City Council.

"In addition, we require the support of parents in ensuring the consequences of such behaviour on their childrens' 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."

Meanwhile following the St Patrick's Day parade in Belfast City Centre hundreds of youths gathered.

Around six PSNI Land Rovers lined the middle of the road to separate loyalist flag protesters and young people celebrating St Patrick's Day - many of whom were draped in Tricolour flags.

The loyalist protest stems from December 2012 when Belfast councillors voted to switch from permanent displays of the Union flag at City Hall to designated days.

PLANNING REVIEW

Police have said they are going to "review all of the planning for St Patrick's Day".

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 it’s 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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