POLICE have issued a get tough message to students in the Holyland district of south Belfast if they misbehave.
A senior PSNI officer says tough action will be taken against anyone involved in anti-social behaviour on St Patrick’s Day.
Last year eight people were arrested over the holiday period in connection with disorder in the heavily-populated area of south Belfast.
However, the celebrations were viewed as having passed off relatively peacefully, in comparison to the major trouble which has flared in previous years.
Police said patrols will once again be on the ground in the lead up to Sunday and warned that anyone who steps out of line will be dealt with “robustly”.
PSNI Chief Inspector Gabriel Moran said: “Anyone wishing to visit South Belfast to celebrate St Patrick’s Day peacefully and without causing disruption is encouraged to do so and I hope they thoroughly enjoy all the events planned over that weekend.
“But be assured, we will robustly deal with anyone stepping out of line.
“Those planning parties must consider the wishes of those living nearby and should not create excessive noise, or become involved in anti-social behaviour.
“They must conduct themselves lawfully and with respect to others at all times.”
Police, Belfast City Council and university representatives took to the streets last March as part of a major crackdown on overnight trouble, with seven men and one woman arrested for offences including disorderly behaviour, drink driving, common assault and criminal damage.
Once again, both Queen’s University and the University of Ulster encouraged students to stay off the streets over the St Patrick’s weekend, with the Friday and Monday given as days off.
Professor Alastair Adair, Provost, Ulster University Jordanstown and Belfast said: “In the interests of good community relations we are asking all students in south Belfast to go home over St Patrick’s Day.
“And anyone who wishes to remain should be respectful and considerate of local residents during the celebrations”.
Tony Gallagher, QUB Pro-Vice-Chancellor, said: “While last year saw a significant reduction in the number of young people in the area at that time we cannot become complacent and for those who choose to come to the Holyland and become involved in anti-social behaviour there will be consequences.
“The message is very clear – do not come to the Holyland for St Patrick’s weekend.”