Plea for peaceful Belfast St Patrick’s Day celebrations

An image from Saint Patrick's Day last year
An image from Saint Patrick's Day last year

Political leaders have said they hope there will be no repeat of the drunken disorder which has marred St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Belfast.

In previous years hundreds of young people have flocked to the Holylands area for raucous street parties.

Riots have also broken out where intoxicated youths have clashed with police, set cars and bins on fire and hurled stones or bricks.

Both Queen’s University and Ulster University have taken action against students involved in antisocial activities and have issued warnings ahead of the annual event.

Sinn Fein MLA for South Belfast Mairtin O Muilleoir told the Assembly it was a difficult period for the families and residents who live in the terraced houses alongside the student population.

He said: “St Patrick’s Day is coming round and that is always a very tough time for the families and residents of the Holylands.”

Given that approval was granted last month for thousands of purpose-built student flats in Belfast city centre, Mr O Muilleoir said efforts should be renewed to regenerate the Holylands into a “family friendly vibrant community”.

In his first question time session since being appointed Social Development Minister, Lord Maurice Morrow said he hoped for a peaceful St Patrick’s Day.

He said: “I think it would be very good if we could avoid what has been happening on St Patrick’s Day in previous years.

“Let’s hope that the behaviour that has been witnessed there in the past is not a feature this year and that, in fact, people show respect and regard for others.”