Gardaí warn students over drinking on the street during RAG week

Students caught drinking on the street during next week's RAG week event in Cork will be fined, gardaí have warned.

And those who step out of line could also face internal college sanctions, up to and including fines.

Gardaí are appealing to students to be respectful of residents living in and around the city’s university precinct.

But they have also advised landlords, publicans and off-licence owners of their responsibilities with plans to conduct spot-checks on licensed premises across the week as part of wider efforts to further reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour which have marred the student-led charity event in recent years.

RAG week had become a nightmare for residents living in and around UCC, with drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour.

It led to a garda crackdown and the establishment of a forum involving gardaí, UCC authorities, the student union and campus security, resident representatives, publicans, door-staff and security companies, and street pastors.

Two community gardaí now liaise with UCC and the student union has established a Student Community Support officer initiative to monitor streets from 8pm to 4am during the week.

UCC authorities have introduced an internal sanctions procedure which can lead to the confiscation of student ID cards and in some cases fines.

Resident representatives say they have seen significant improvements, especially over the last two years.

Head of Community Policing in the city, Sgt Stewart Philpott, said gardaí want to improve on that.

“At last year’s event, 170 fines were issued for drinking on the street and this year we will be taking the same approach,” he said.

“That’s a fine of €75 and if it is not paid, a court appearance will follow. We also had a number of arrests for public order, assault, drink driving and possession of drugs.”

He urged students who find themselves in a difficult situation, to walk away and call gardaí.

“Assaults can affect many lives, not just the victim,” he said.

If you were to hit someone, or get caught with drugs, a conviction could ruin your career before it has even started or prevent you from travelling abroad on a J1 visa.

The Garda Community Policing Unit, the District Drug Unit and Divisional Roads Policing Units will be involved in next week’s police operation.

High visibility patrols will be mounted in the area from 2pm with more garda resources deployed from 8pm. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday night are expected to be particularly busy.

Leaflets have also been delivered to homes in the area with contact numbers in the event of trouble.

Michael O’Donovan, chairman of the Cork branch of the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland (VFI), said his members have engaged in the talks and are anxious to ensure RAG week runs smoothly and safely.

“Their focus will be on checking IDs and intoxication, and refusing access to those who are clearly intoxicated,” he said.

“I know some publicans will be using plastic glasses next week. No bottles or glasses will be allowed to leave the premises and if there is any rubbish in the immediate area of their premises, publicans have given a commitment that they will clean that.”

But he said while VFI members will do all they can, there is little they can do about people who bring alcohol or glasses from home, or who buy slabs of beer from supermarkets.

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