Three men were arrested after gardaí were forced to break up a street party in a residential area of Limerick on Tuesday night . The University of Limerick has promised "strong disciplinary action" against any students who breached Covid regulations.
Gardaí dispatched a "significant" number of officers to the Carysfort Avenue estate at College Court, Castletroy in response to complaints and after videos of the chaotic street parties in the residential area began to circulate on social media.
Three people were arrested at the scene, two men in their 20s for public order and one for misuse of drugs. About 30 fixed payment notices for breaches of the Health Act (Covid regulations) were also issued.
Garda sources said students gathered on Carysfort Avenue, College Court, Castletroy around 6pm and were still being cleared from the area after 9pm. One garda source described the scenes as “a sh** show”.
"Garda members attempted to engage with the gathered individuals. Following continued and orchestrated non-compliance with Public Health Regulations and failing to comply with directions from An Garda Síochána, Gardaí were forced to intervene at approximately 7.15pm," a statement said.
An investigation is now underway into who organised the event, an offence under pandemic laws, and said a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“An Garda Síochána in Limerick continue to have a close and positive working relationship with the authorities and community in the University of Limerick.”
In a statement, UL president Professor Kerstin Mey told The Irish Times that "UL will take action with strong disciplinary measures against any student who has been found to have breached public health guidelines. Students at UL are subject to a code of conduct."
Homeowners and landlords in an area close to the campus expressed concerns over alleged student partying during rag week in spite of Covid-19 restrictions.
Videos on social media and some supplied directly to The Irish Times purport to show young people socialising in the College Court area of Castletroy.
Various footage showed scenes of people dancing in a housing estate, running down the street following the detonation of a large firework and, in another, being chased down and apprehended by gardai.
One property owner, requesting anonymity, said while there have been antisocial complaints regarding students in the past, anxiety was heightened due to the pandemic and that restrictions were being ignored wholesale during what would normally be college rag week.
“It’s really dangerous out there. There are hundreds of people at different parties tonight,” the owner said, at times becoming emotional. “Residents are tormented.”
LimerickNow.ie posted at least two videos showing large gatherings of people and said its inbox was “flooded” with reports of the activities in College Court.
As well as parties and fireworks, residents have complained of young people on the roofs of their houses.
The property owner, claiming to be part of a broader group of landlords and homeowners, said they have had no success in engaging with the University over student activities and that they believe gardai are limited in what they can do.
Landlords are too nervous to go into properties and students, when approached, are unperturbed, the owner said.
Aside from the university president’s statement, a spokesman for UL said it has “provided resources for high visibility Covid-19 garda policing with a focus on off-campus estates and gardai have indicated that fines will be issued for breaches of the regulations detected”.
Gardaí said they would continue to patrol in the vicinity of the University campus and surrounding residential areas to check compliance to Covid-19 regulations.
Local TD Willie O’Dea said it was an ongoing problem in the area and that residents associations have been seeking solutions.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable. These activities are basically just undermining the sacrifices that we are all going through just keeping to the rules,” he said following Tuesday night’s scenes.
Social media displayed public frustration and anger at the latest scenes of people flaunting public health guidelines and laws.
“UL need to up the ante... work with the guards. They all have student ids. Expel them. They do it because they know there is no consequence...,” said one Twitter post.
Another pointed out that a small number of students were giving the University a bad name.
“Shoutout to all the idiots down in college court giving UL and young people a bad name...hope you are all proud of yourselves, especially the ones posting this all to their own social media.”