Commissioner’s concern over young people at St Patrick’s Day festivities

PSNI officers in Donegall Place after the St Patrick's Day carnival parade in Belfast city centre
PSNI officers in Donegall Place after the St Patrick's Day carnival parade in Belfast city centre

The commissioner for children and young people has expressed concern over disorder around the St Patrick’s Day festivities in Belfast.

Koulla Yiasouma was commenting after police confirmed 33 arrests in the city and many young people were filmed taking part in disturbances.

During one incident, a number of young people were photographed burning a Union Flag.

“I am concerned that, yet again, our children are being put at considerable risk. I would call on all responsible adults to make every effort to prevent children and young people becoming involved in such incidents,” Ms Yiasouma said.

“I am also deeply concerned at the suggestion that alcohol was a factor in some of these disturbances,” she added.

Police said the arrests in Belfast were for a range of offences including drug possession, criminal damage and public order breaches.

Inspector Rosie Thompson said upwards of 15,000 people came to enjoy the family atmosphere, but that a “small number of individuals” engaged in criminal activity.

“This could lead to them to receiving a fine and a criminal record,” Insp Thompson added.

A 12-year-old girl was hurt during minor disturbances in the city centre.

Belfast councillor Tim Attwood said he been inundated with complaints, including one from his wife, about men urinating in the street.

The SDLP representative said the situation was unacceptable and that the council should consider supplying portable toilets to bars and clubs on carnival days.

Mr Attwood said: “It is wholly unacceptable to witness young men in the middle of the day urinating in public outside pubs and clubs.

“My wife, who was out with our seven-year-old child for a walk to the Kennedy Centre (in west Belfast) on St Patrick’s Day, witnessed some young men openly urinating in a residential street.”

Londonderry woman pleads guilty to burning tricolour

Also on St Patrick’s Day, a Londonderry woman has pleaded guilty to burning an Irish tricolour with the intention of provoking a breach of the peace.

Denise Hynds, 43, from the Fountain estate in the city, pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour in the vicinity of Bishop Street and to carrying out a provocative act.

She was released on her own bail of £750 to return for sentencing on April 24.

While on bail she is required to live at her home address, not to purchase or consume alcohol and not to enter a licensed premises.