Belfast Telegraph

Act up and we'll kick you out: QUB and UU warn students over St Patrick's day trouble in Belfast's Holyland

By Jonny Bell

Queen's and Ulster University have warned students that if they are caught causing trouble over the St Patrick's Day festivities, they face being kicked out.

Both institutions have written to their students warning them to avoid anti-social behaviour in the Holyland area and for those that don't heed the advice they face disciplinary action including expulsion.

Wednesday and Thursday have also been called as reading days in an attempt to allow students to go home to celebrate. The universities said this was a request from residents in the area.

David Jones, Queen's Pro Vice Chancellor admitted it was "optimistic" to think students would avoid the area all-together and that the reading days did not equal a "four-day party".

"Yes celebrate but please not in the Holyland," he told the BBC.

The Holyland area has become synonymous with trouble on March 17 for a number of years. Off-licences in the area will restrict their closing times on the day for the first time.

Professor Jones added: “Queen’s staff will be on the ground in the Holyland area throughout this week and during St Patrick’s Day itself, supporting the PSNI and Belfast City Council in their robust enforcement of legislation in relation to anti-social behaviour.

"The University will fully investigate any complaints or reports of anti-social behaviour. A strict off-campus disciplinary code is in place, and if any Queen’s student is found to have brought the University into disrepute, they will be subject to the full rigours of this code."

More: St Patrick's Day 2017 - What's happening across Northern Ireland

There will also be an increased police presence in the area with officers wearing body cameras to capture anything that may occur.

Duncan Morrow, from Ulster University described the decision by the off-licences to close for a period as a "hugely important contribution to helping quell trouble".

"We are telling people to stay away from the Holyland and if we get evidence of involvement in trouble you will be severely disciplined for it," He said.

"This is a real issue these are responsible adults and they are responsible for their actions and we will treat them as adults and if they bring the reputation of the university into disrepute that will be treated very severely.

"We are trying to ensure this annual issue is very tightly managed."

More: Holyland off-licences shut for St Patrick's Day

PSNI 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, added: "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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