More than 220 house parties have taken place in a small residential area in the heart of Cork city since the end of May, according to terrified residents, who fear rising antisocial behaviour and the potential spread of Covid-19.
According to an ongoing survey in operation since May, they are all based along a narrow 1.5km stretch of residential streets adjacent to the University College Cork campus between Bendemeer Park and Gillabbey Street.
According to residents in and around Magazine Road, gardaí were called out 127 times to the parties. One house has had at least 16 complaints lodged against it, while others have had seven and 15.
Residents, many of whom are elderly, have continued to monitor the parties since they started to become a big issue in May.
Around 200 students from around other parts of Cork, Kerry and Limerick moved into properties in and around Magazine Road. Shortly after they arrived, there was a string of rowdy house parties.
Residents estimate thousands of young people have attended these parties since they began earlier this year.
Catherine Clancy, of the Magazine Road and Surrounding Areas Residents Association, said: “At the best of times, this scale of a problem would be horrendous.
“At the moment, there does not appear to be any legislation to stop house parties in these large rental properties.
“Frankly, a dog kennel would have better legislation.”
The residents first asked organisers - some of whom are students - directly to stop but they were mostly ignored.
Then, they went after the landlords and are currently campaigning for a change in existing laws.
They had wanted the authorities to use draconian provisions of the 1947 Health Act, which provide for penalties of fines and jail, to be used against rowdy residents.
But they have since discovered these regulations don’t apply to events in private dwellings unless there is a confirmed outbreak of a serious illness.
A spokesperson for the gardaí said: “An Garda Síochána continues to respond to reports of gatherings and engage with communities with a view to implementing guidelines issued by the Government and HSE in order to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our community as a whole.
They added: “Following incidents of house parties in the College Road/Magazine Road area of Cork in late May and early June, Gardaí in the Cork City Division have liaised closely and extensively with local stakeholders and residents.
“Gardaí have increased patrols in this area, and other areas in line with the policing plan during the current Covid-19 Pandemic.
“An Garda Siochana has always had to respond to complaints about parties/gatherings in private dwellings with limited powers.
“Noise complaints are a civil matter and are dealt with by the local authority.
“Social distancing and other similar public health guidelines are not penal provisions.”
A UCC spokesperson said: “We again call on all students to meet our shared responsibility to ensure we protect ourselves and our community.
"Students are reminded that while the academic year has yet to commence, students are still expected to uphold UCC’s Standards of Conduct."