Calls for action against anti-social behaviour in the Holylands in Belfast as university term begins

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By Q Radio News

There's calls for more to be done to stop anti-social behaviour in the Holylands area of Belfast as the new university term begins.

In particular, John Stewart MLA, Ulster Unionist spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, has called on university authorities, police and Belfast City Council to spearhead enforcement action.

Mr Stewart said: “The scenes in the Holylands are totally unacceptable and grossly irresponsible. We need the university authorities, police and Belfast City Council to spearhead enforcement action against dangerous levels of anti-social behaviour.

"This behaviour would be unacceptable in normal times, but it is particularly appalling in present circumstances, given the threat from Covid-19.

“It is clear that existing Covid regulations are being breached and that robust action needs to be taken.  This is necessary for the sake of long-suffering residents of the area and for the vast majority of students who abhor what is being done.

“It is regrettable, but sadly predictable, that some political representatives are trying to suggest that the Health Minister should take the lead on policing the Holylands. In reality, a multi-agency approach is what is needed, with the police and the universities in the lead role.”

Meanwhile, SDLP South Belfast MP, Claire Hanna has urged students involved in dangerous and anti-social behaviour, to show some regard for their community, after another night of disturbance in the Holylands.

The South Belfast MP commented:

“The vast majority of young people and students can enjoy themselves responsibly but those who engaged in the anti social behaviour last night demonstrated an astounding lack of judgement. This behaviour is appalling in any situation, but particularly dangerous in the context of a global health pandemic.”

“It must be made clear and in no uncertain terms, that this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. I urge the minority of students and young people who are causing this hassle, and distress for residents, to wise up and consider the impact of their actions on those around them and their future.”

"Along with colleagues Councillor Gary McKeown and Matthew O’Toole MLA, I will continue to engage with agencies, including the universities, who have a key role in reinforcing the message to their students, though not all the young people involved will be students.”

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