Arrests and charges could help put a stop to some of the lockdown house party activity that has been blighting communities near Cork’s third-level institutions, the president of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) said.
Barry O’Connor urged students who are renting in the suburbs to have respect for the communities in which they live, but he said there are plenty of laws on the books to crack down on some of the recent behaviour which, in many cases, has been blamed on students.
The Covid-19 house party problem has led to residents living close to University College Cork (UCC) staging street vigils and taking their protest to the private house of one landlord last weekend.
Dr O’Connor, who along with UCC president Patrick O’Shea, gardaí, and the HSE, co-signed a letter to students almost two weeks ago urging them to behave, said gardaí have laws to address many of the issues involved.
“And it does involve ‘arrest and charge’. If any of us here stepped out of line, we’d be done for it and rightly so,” he said.
“Maybe if half a dozen or so students felt the rigours of the law for stepping out of line, that would stop it. The laws are the laws and we have plenty of laws to sort things out.”
However, he also said there is a certain “tolerance” to students queuing outside pubs at 7am during some third-level festivals, and to images on social media claiming the orderly queues are examples of good behaviour.
“That should not be characterised as good behaviour. There is a tolerance there in society which shouldn’t be happening,” he said.
He said students who rent in the city must realise that they do not live in a cocoon, that they are part of a community and should respect it, and that they should be aware of the potential dangers to their own health of some of the activity they engage in, and of the consequences for stepping out of line.
He reminded students that there could be implications for garda vetting later in their career, and he warned that convictions for criminal offences can affect job prospects and prevent the granting of a visa for travel to the US.