Two men have been arrested in connection with disorder in Belfast's Holyland area that saw a council worker assaulted.
A 22-year old-man was detained on Tuesday following the assault of the council employee and two police officers and was later charged. He was also handed a £1000 fine for breach of the travel quarantine regulations.
The other man, aged 20, was also arrested for disorderly behaviour and is currently assisting police with their enquiries.
The arrests come following ongoing reports of disorder in the area, with large crowds of young people gathering outside homes and drinking in the street.
Residents in the area have claimed young people are descending on the area from across Northern Ireland to party and stay illegally in south Belfast homes for as little as £20 a night.
Sad news that a member of @belfastcc staff was assaulted overnight in the Holyland. Whilst its welcome @PSNIBelfastS were able to make an arrest, it's a reminder of the challenges our staff face in supporting residential communities.— Emmet McDonough-Brown (@EmmetMcDB) September 15, 2020
On Monday evening, police said officers responded to 13 calls for service, issued one community resolution notice and one fixed penalty notice. A prohibition notice was also served on the residents of a property.
Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said: “We have been vocal in our warnings to young people who have moved to the Holyland area and those who are visiting the area. Everyone has a responsibility to adhere to the Health Protection Regulations to protect themselves and others from Covid19.
“We are conducting patrols, with our partners, and where we see breaches of the Regulations or antisocial or criminal behaviour we will take action.
“A large number of people are acting responsibly but there are a few who continue to behave recklessly and are causing disruption for the local community.
“We would again remind students living off campus of the importance of building good relationships with local residents and being respectful of the needs of the whole community."
Green Party councillor Aine Groogan condemned the assault on the council employee.
“People living in the Holyland have been tortured for years by a small section of students and young people. The human rights of residents have been infringed upon with noise, anti-social behaviour and fly tipping destroying quality of life," she said.
“The assault on a council employee last night means that workers’ rights are now being violated in the Holylands.
“Our council staff make a valuable contribution to their community. They are sometimes doing a thankless job, trying to keep people safe. It’s unacceptable that they have been subjected to an assault.
“No public servant should be violated like this, just for doing their job."
Meanwhile, the Alliance Party has called on Health Minister Robin Swann to provide clarity on the advice regarding the return of students to university accommodation.
Residents have expressed concern for the forthcoming Freshers’ Week fearing matters will only get worse.
Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw called on the Health Minister to clarify the advice concerning students returning to student accommodation in the Belfast City Council area.
“Last Thursday the Executive announced restrictions stopping people from two households congregating in a private home and also recommending no travel outside the new restricted areas, which included the entirely of the Belfast City Council area,” the South Belfast MLA said.
“This jars, however, with the idea students should be able to enter the restricted area and share accommodation with people from different households, before potentially returning home outside the restricted area at the weekend.
"Neither of those options is consistent with the regulations nor the guidance."
Ms Bradshaw continued: "There is no question the behaviour I saw this week when I visited the area and which was subsequently reported to me by residents in the Holyland is already clearly in breach of the regulations as they will come to apply.
"This raises serious issues of nuisance to local residents, but also serious issues around public health during this emergency.
“It needs therefore to be clarified how regulations which bar people from different households congregating in the same private residence will apply and be enforced, and what the scientific advice says about what measures are required to manage a return to study safely in restricted areas.”
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, a Department of Health spokesperson directed us to online advice pages, including guidance for landlords issued by the Department of Communities and scientific advice for universities issued by Sage.
Police have also been approached for comment.