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'Respect Belfast Holyland residents', says PSNI chief Byrne warning St Patrick’s Day Covid breaches will be dealt with

Holyland taskforce needed to tackle Belfast area's systemic problems, says MP Claire Hanna


Chief Constable Simon Byrne

Chief Constable Simon Byrne

Chief Constable Simon Byrne

The PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne has warned anyone planning to travel to the Holyland area of Belfast for St Patrick’s Day that police will deal robustly with Covid-19 breaches and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Byrne is also backing a call by the area's MP for a task force to oversee change in the main student area of Belfast - not just on St Patrick's Day but all year round.

The Holyland area has become synonymous with anti-social behaviour for St Patrick's Day, with large crowds, including those from outside the area, gathering to party.

South Belfast MP Claire Hanna has again urged the first and deputy first ministers to establish a task force group to find long-term solutions to the area's "systemic problems".

Tweeting on Monday morning Mr Byrne wrote: "I fully support ⁦the call for the @niexecutive to establish a task force to deal the ongoing Holylands issue. Long standing planning issues have resulted in current problems.

"A new joint agency approach is required."

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He added: "I would remind anyone planning to travel to the Holylands for St Patrick’s day that @PoliceServiceNI will be in the area and will deal robustly with #Covid breeches & anti social behaviour.

"Respect the Holylands residents & protect your health & the health of your family."

Speaking ahead of St Patrick's Day on Wednesday, Ms Hanna also said students and young people need to be sensible and not put themselves or others at risk.

"While we have made significant progress against Covid-19, it is still taking lives every day. We are not out of the woods and people need to show good judgment, exercise personal responsibility and not come to the Holylands," the SDLP MP said.

"The behaviour of previous years isn't acceptable at any time, but especially not when Covid is a live risk."

Residents have long campaigned for action to prevent the annual influx of party-goers and associated problems.

For the second year, the situation has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and fears of spreading the virus.

Earlier this month, police handed out £11,000 in fines in a single night after a number of parties were held in the area.

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