Holylands residents given Patrick's Day warning

St Patrick's Day revellers in the Holylands area of Belfast have been warned they could be left with a life-time hangover if they do not behave.

St Patrick's Day revellers in the Holylands area of Belfast have been warned they could be left with a life-time hangover if they do not behave.

Amid fears of a repeat of riotous scenes that have blighted festivities in the heavily populated student neighbourhood in recent years, the city council, police and universities have reminded party goers of the potential repercussions of their actions.

They have stressed that any criminal behaviour will be dealt with robustly and that having a record could thwart future job and travel opportunities.

Councillor Bernie Kelly, a member of the council's Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: "No one wants to put a dampener on the celebrations or prevent anyone from having fun, but as responsible adults, everyone must be aware that there are consequences for their actions, long after the partying has stopped.

"Things like on-street drinking, loud music and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated, and there will be a heavy price to pay for anyone who ignores the campaign's message; not just financially, but in terms of risking a criminal record which could affect career prospects, and even plans to travel or work abroad."

The campaign calling for respect is being led by the council in partnership with the PSNI, universities, students' unions, the Department for Employment and Learning, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, and churches and faith organisations in the Holyland and wider university area.

PSNI district commander for south and east Belfast, Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum, said police wanted everybody to have a safe and enjoyable day while being respectful of the rights of others, particularly long-term residents of the Holyland area.

"We are working very closely with all our partner agencies and residents to ensure that people can enjoy themselves safely and sensibly, while respecting other people's right to a quiet and peaceful day," he said.

"My officers will deal robustly with any incidents of criminal and anti-social behaviour. We have proactively increased our neighbourhood policing team patrols ahead of the event and will maintain a heightened presence throughout.

"I would appeal to everyone to think before you behave in a way that might result in a criminal record; do not ruin your future in a moment of madness."

Queen's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher said: "The university and its Students' Union are committed to making sure that this year's St Patrick's Day is the happy and sociable occasion that it should be for everyone.

"We have invested significant resources to help improve community relations and, in conjunction with all other partners, we reinforce the message that there are far-reaching consequences for anti-social behaviour.

"Our students have been, and are being, reminded that, if any of them are found to bring the university into disrepute, they will be subject to the full rigours of our strict disciplinary code."

Professor Alastair Adair, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Communication and External Affairs at the University of Ulster, said: "The University of Ulster is reminding our students of their responsibilities to the communities they live in, and urging them to be respectful and considerate of local residents and communities while they enjoy the St Patrick's Day celebrations.

"At the same time, we will, as always, act swiftly to discipline any of our students identified as engaging in anti-social behaviour which tarnishes the good name of the university."

UU and Queen's student unions have also urged members to respect others during the celebrations.

Employment and Learning Minister Danny Kennedy added: "St Patrick's Day is normally a time for celebration and should be welcomed as such. Last year's celebrations were an improvement on the previous year and I would like to see this trend continue.

"My message to students is, by all means enjoy yourselves, but do so in a responsible manner and in a way that shows respect to your neighbours, be they long-term residents or, indeed, your fellow students."

"I would like to commend Belfast City Council's inter-agency group as this is yet another example of their continued good work in trying to address the problems in the area."

As part of the campaign, there has been a direct mail-out to around 7,000 homes in the university area and the campaign is also being supported by radio and posters, as well as online.

For more information about the campaign visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/respect.

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