We must not suffer again on St Pat’s Day, say Holyland residents

Young people on Agincourt Avenue in the Holyland area of Belfast on St Patrick's Day 2016, where drunken behaviour caused great distress to local residents Photo by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Young people on Agincourt Avenue in the Holyland area of Belfast on St Patrick's Day 2016, where drunken behaviour caused great distress to local residents Photo by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

There is anger in the University and Holyland area of south Belfast at the moment about the total trashing of the area and disrespect shown to residents by 8,000 drunks at a ‘festival’ ostensibly to ‘celebrate’ St Patrick’s Day.

Youths aged from 14 upwards ran amok, many semi naked, wrapped in Irish tricolours and totally drunk and/or high on drugs.

They came in on hired buses from all around Northern Ireland and the border counties, travelled also from England, Scotland and Wales.

They created a waste land of noise, sectarianism, aggression and vomit.

At one stage four streets were blocked and no emergency access was available.

Children, especially the 200 Roma youngsters who lived here, were terrified and sleepless as were older and vulnerable people, refugees and asylum seekers from other lands.

It was a life threatening situation which had major potential to spiral out of control.

In the midst of this mayhem Wildflower Alley ran a multi cultural festival in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church and created an oasis of calm in the storm.

We had Irish, Polish, Chinese and African music and dance, face painting, wildflower seed planting and historical exhibitions.

We had no alcohol and no flags and it was a truly magical occasion!

As a result of this success, we decided to unite all residents groups in a collective called CURB.

The initials come from: College (Park Avenue) University (Avenue) Rugby (Road) Botanic area.

The group focuses on curbing anti social behaviour.

A first CURB meeting is planned for possibly the afternoon of April 19 in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church. We are determined to ensure that the events of St Patrick’s Day 2016 in South Belfast Holyland area will never be repeated.

Bríd Rudd, College Park Ave, Belfast BT7