Gardaí to lead UCC Rag Week crackdown

GARDAÍ will lead a major and co-ordinated crackdown on University College Cork’s (UCC) annual Rag Week event next week.

Superintendent Barry McPolin, who is in charge of policing in the city centre, warned students there will be a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour and that arrests will be made where necessary.

Wild house parties will not be tolerated and on-the-spot fines for drinking on the street will be issued, he said.

Raising And Giving (Rag) Week – the annual charity fundraising event at UCC – kicks off at UCC on Monday. It is one of the biggest events on the student calendar. But last year’s event spiralled out of control.

In one of the worst incidents, up to 70 people gathered at a party in a student house at 2pm before dragging furniture on a public green where they continued drinking.

A crowd of more that 100 gathered before the furniture was set alight.

There was a flood of complaints to gardaí, UCC’s students’ union, and college authorities afterwards.

A forum was set up involving the gardaí, college authorities, students’ union representatives, and local residents which has resulted in the coordinated crackdown ahead of this year’s event.

Supt McPolin said there will be a heavy garda presence, involving both uniformed and plain clothes officers, on duty in the UCC area from Sunday night.

Dedicated and high-visibility garda foot, bike and mobile patrols will be deployed every day.

“We are dedicating significant resources to the policing of this event,” Supt McPolin said.

“We don’t want to put a dampener on the socialising. The simple message is if the students act responsibly, and act as they would if they were in their own background, there won’t be any trouble.

“But if they transgress, we will take swift action. Where necessary, people will be arrested, and they will be processed in accordance with the law.”

He met yesterday with publicans and off-licence owners who run businesses around UCC to seek their co-operation next week.

Student’s Union president Eoin Hayes said the union has distributed leaflets to houses around the college to allow people lodge complaints to a 24-hour hotline.

And he said student patrols will be on duty between 8pm and 4am every day.

“We are there to help students, not police them. We will be telling them things like a conviction for public order could ruin an application for a J1 visa,” he said.

The college authorities have also warned students of serious sanctions for transgressions during Rag Week.

“The majority of students act very well but you will always have a cohort who will drink to excess and cause grief,” Supt McPolin said.

“The most important thing is that people willenjoy themselves, but they must enjoy themselves responsibly.”

Rag Week organisers hope to raise up to €32,000 this year. The chosen charities are the Life Centre on Sunday’s Well, UCC’s St Vincent de Paul branch, Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, and a paediatric hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti.

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