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Holy Land ‘action plan’ in place to stop riots

By Kathryn Torney

Over 370 students were disciplined by Northern Ireland’s two universities for anti-social behaviour during the first term of this academic year.

As action continues to be taken against students’ off-campus antics, Queen’s University and the University of Ulster are also putting plans in place in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the riots which took place in the Holy Land area of Belfast last St Patrick’s Day.

Two police officers were injured and vehicles damaged during confrontations between rioters and police.

A ‘Holy Land Action Plan’ has been agreed following meetings between Belfast City Council, the Department for Employment and Learning, the PSNI, community leaders, residents, students and politicians. A St Patrick’s Day Student Festival has been organised for March 17 as an alternative to drinking on the streets.

The universities and their students’ unions are running an education campaign which includes distributing flyers and door-to-door visits by university representatives and community safety wardens.

The UU is also emailing students to warn them of the consequences of anti-social behaviour.

Policing resources are now allocated to the Holy Land and wider university area on a year-round basis. Community safety wardens have been patrolling the area since January 2006.

Planning approval is currently being sought to install 12 CCTV cameras. 521 students were disciplined during the 2008/09 academic year with lower Agincourt Avenue, Rugby Avenue and Carmel Street the streets attracting the most complaints.

A QUB spokeswoman said: “Queen’s University continues to work with key stakeholders to ensure students are saware of their responsibilities while off-campus and of the penalties they face for breaching these responsibilities.”

A spokesman for the University of Ulster said: “We want to take this opportunity to assure residents and public representatives that an extensive programme of events and awareness activities are in place for students in the Holy Lands area over the period.”

Belfast Telegraph


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