'Minority' of Galway students behind offences


NUI GALWAY Students Union has said a “small minority” were responsible for incidents in the city this week which led to more than 30 arrests.

Gardaí have said “college week”, as it is known, had passed off “reasonably well” in comparison to other years.

Gardaí made 28 arrests for public order offences and three for alleged criminal damage during the past five days, while some eight people have been charged. They are due to appear before Galway District Court over the next month.

However, university president Dr Jim Browne has called for an end to “college week”, while college officials have warned that offending students will be expelled.

One Galway resident living close to the university said he may have to leave his home after his experience over the past few days.

Martin Jennings (68), who is wheelchair-bound, described the week’s events as “shocking”.

Mr Jennings has been living for 30 years in Hazel Park, Newcastle, where many students rent accommodation close to the university.

“On Wednesday night we had 150 of them in one of the houses and the abuse that was given to residents was awful,” he said.

“It was shocking. They were all over the place, screaming, shouting and throwing bottles all over the place.

“They were giving abuse to everybody, including the gardaí. They were giving abuse to the people in the area. I don’t know when it is going to end.

“A young family moved in at the top of the road and they have four very young children. And the mob spent their time pegging bottles at their car,” he said. “They can’t leave their home at all now. ’’

“Elderly people who used to walk through the estate as a short cut are afraid to now in case they will be abused or assaulted,” Mr Jennings added.

He said he had four security cameras on his property and he had seen “two girls dancing on a car roof at one stage”.

Most of those involved were “extremely drunk”.

“Somebody from the college was supposed to come out to us and apologise for all this, but we haven’t seen anyone yet,” he said. However, he also acknowledged that not all students in the area were involved.

“There are 14 or 15 lads inside one of the houses across from me, but they are fine.

“They are a good house of lads and always ask me if I am okay or if I need anything,” he said.

Students union president Peter Mannion said a minority were “giving a bad name” to a student population of 17,000.

The university had a very successful community knowledge initiative programme, and there was considerable fundraising for charity on campus,” Mr Mannion added.

“We are trying to put in place measures that can influence and improve behavioural patterns, but we do feel that it is better to have a college week event that is organised, and largely confined to campus, rather than one without some kind of framework.”