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All quiet on Belfast Holyland front on St Patrick's Day

 

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The PSNI said around £100,000 had been budgeted for policing St Patrick’s Day events in Belfast this weekend (stock photo)

The PSNI said around £100,000 had been budgeted for policing St Patrick’s Day events in Belfast this weekend (stock photo)

The PSNI said around £100,000 had been budgeted for policing St Patrick’s Day events in Belfast this weekend (stock photo)

Near-freezing temperatures and a substantial police presence put a dampener on student partying in Belfast's Holyland last night.

The area close to Queen's University has become notorious for drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour, with St Patrick's Day the traditional climax of the revellers' year, to the annoyance of the few remaining long-term residents.

Seventeen people were arrested in the Holyland on St Patrick's Day 2018.

But while there were still plenty of sozzled students on the streets early on last night, many brandishing bottles of cider and cheap tonic wine, numbers were nowhere near the levels seen in recent years.

Local councillor Declan Boyle, who is also the landlord of a number of properties let to students in the area, told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "I've been out and about in the area all day today. I've spoken with the police, and as it stands they're fairly content behaviour has been reasonable.

"I think what's happened so far has been fairly good."

Mr Boyle commended the police, adding: "A substantial presence will always make a difference, and I think that the police attitude this year has been absolutely fine, they've been very helpful."

City Council wardens on the ground agreed that things had been relatively quiet up to that point, though they cautioned that what happened after pubs closed and revellers spilled out onto the streets was unpredictable.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said it had not been called to any serious incidents in the area.

Teams from both local universities were on the ground throughout the day, as were street pastors and volunteers with the SOS Bus.

The PSNI said around £100,000 had been budgeted for policing St Patrick's Day events in Belfast this weekend.

Police Land-Rovers could be seen in all the main streets of the area, with groups of officers strategically positioned at intersections.

Earlier this week Superintendent Muir Clarke, who was in charge of the Holyland policing operation, rejected that it had turned into a "free-for-all" for street drinking and anti-social behaviour.

He warned: "I am in charge this Sunday when it comes to the policing operation.

"If people who come into the area, whether they be students or people from outside Belfast, I am telling you now: if they are thinking they can come down to have a party, or be in party central, that is not going to happen."

Belfast Telegraph