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Editor's Viewpoint

Selfish behaviour of young revellers in Belfast's Holyland not only annoying, it's highly dangerous in current climate

Editor's Viewpoint


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Social media image showing a night of partying in the Holyland area of south Belfast, 25th June 2020

Social media image showing a night of partying in the Holyland area of south Belfast, 25th June 2020

Social media image showing a night of partying in the Holyland area of south Belfast, 25th June 2020

The Northern Ireland Executive has constantly issued warnings about relaxing social distancing to combat Covid-19, and the danger of ignoring these has been illustrated starkly by the seemingly intractable issue of the on-street drinking that occurred recently in the Holyland area of Belfast.

Brid Ruddy, chair of the College Park Avenue Residents' Association, has warned that trouble in an area popular with students from Queen's and Ulster Universities has been escalating.

Between 500 and 600 young people were partying, setting things on fire and jumping on cars, according to Ms Ruddy, who described this disgraceful behaviour as "a riot." Apart from the anti-social behaviour, making the lives of the non-student residents a misery and using up valuable police resources, there is also the fear that this could turn the Holyland into a coronavirus hotspot.

This week saw many thousands of people crammed on Bournemouth beach cheek by jowl, where social distancing was non-existent. Locally, we have seen similar heedlessness.

The Executive's welcome relaxation of lockdown rules so far have been heavily qualified by the need to keep the 'R'-rate down by social distancing and other measures.

Other places that exited lockdown sooner than Northern Ireland have now been witnessing worrying spikes in infection rates.

Accordingly, the grim reality surrounding Covid-19 cannot be stated too often, and chiefly the fact that until there is a successful vaccine for the coronavirus it will remain at large within the general population, to stalk and worry us.

Given how far we have come here in the three months since lockdown was imposed, it would be an utter tragedy if the reckless behaviour such as that witnessed in the Holyland in recent days took us all back to square one, with all the heartbreak and tragedy that this would undoubtedly entail.

The lockdown may be easing, but this is still a time for much caution.

Belfast Telegraph