Queen's gives students long weekend to avoid repeat of last year's lost weekend


QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY in Belfast has said it is “working closely” with statutory agencies to ensure St Patrick’s Day revelries pass off peacefully this year.

Recent years have seen large-scale disturbances and anti-social behaviour on March 17th, particularly in the “Holyland” area of south Belfast, where thousands of students from a number of universities and further education colleges rent accommodation. The area is also home to long-term owner-occupiers.

Tensions have been running high between residents and students for years, reaching a pitch around this time of year. Last year eight people were arrested on St Patrick’s Day for a number of offences including disorderly behaviour, criminal damage and assault. A large amount of alcohol was also confiscated from the streets.

But Queen’s said it had taken steps to curb excessive partying, including making this Friday, March 16th, a “reading day” and by closing the university altogether next Monday, March 19th. It was “actively encouraging” students to go home to their families for the long weekend.

It was also sending sabbatical officers to patrol the Holyland on the day.

A spokesman said: “The PSNI and Belfast City Council are taking the lead in contingency planning for this year’s St Patrick’s Day. Queen’s University, along with other key stakeholders including . . . the University of Ulster, St Mary’s College and Belfast Metropolitan College are working closely with the lead co-ordinators.”

A community affairs officer from QUB will visit all student houses in the Holyland this week to remind students of their civic responsibilities.

“Any Queen’s student who is reported for anti-social behaviour will be dealt with under the university’s disciplinary process,” the spokesman added.