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Editor's Viewpoint

Time for the party to end in Belfast’s Holyland



Street parties in the Holyland area of south Belfast

Street parties in the Holyland area of south Belfast

Street parties in the Holyland area of south Belfast

It was inevitable that residents from Belfast’s Holyland would eventually lose patience and take court action to stop their lives being made a misery for any longer.

Reading their story in today’s newspaper one can almost hear their frustration at the inability of statutory bodies to rein in the excesses of students and their friends who have made the area the scene of a virtual non-stop party.

Drunken late night scenes, the fear of spreading Covid, the ruination of the area with graffiti on the walls of side streets and alleyways littered with mattresses, bits of furniture and broken bottles — these are the conditions that the long-term residents have to put up with year after year.

No one should have to accept their home streets being defaced by squalour caused by people with no stake in the community.

It should be emphasised that not all students or young people who live in or come into the area are to blame, but it is clear that a significant number see the Holyland as a place to let off steam away from home.

As far as the residents are concerned the statutory bodies are not doing enough to curb the bad behaviour shown by the trouble-makers.

Those taking the legal action say letters sent to the First and Deputy First Ministers and the Health Minister at Stormont highlighting their fears that the swarms of young people partying in the area could further spread the Covid-19 virus have so far gone unanswered.

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They also regard Belfast City Council as toothless and say even the PSNI are unable to stamp out the trouble they face on a frequent basis.

This problem has been occurring for years and each year the statutory bodies and the two universities whose students populate the area tell the residents they are taking robust action against those causing the disruption. But the sad reality is that it still continues.

Those hell bent on partying non-stop find ways to circumvent any new rules put in place and even the issuing of 2,300 warnings, fines, community resolution notices and reports to the Public Prosecution Services by the PSNI seems to have little effect.

Just what the courts can do is unclear but it is clear that greater political involvement from Executive level is required to co-ordinate action by the City Council, universities, police and landlords. Residents in the Holyland should not have their lives made intolerable by those whose behaviour would not be tolerated in other areas of the city whose residents may have greater influence with the authorities.

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