Make it a good one this St Patrick’s Day
15 Mar 2011
As Belfast gears up for its annual St Patrick’s Day festivities, a campaign is urging young people to avoid any unwelcome ‘hangovers’ from their celebrations.
Belfast City Council is working with its partner agencies to make sure this year’s event runs as smoothly as possible, and is reminding young people - particularly those living in student areas - to be mindful of their behaviour, and respect their neighbours and each other.
Councillor Bernie Kelly, a member of the council’s Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: “No one wants to put a dampener on the celebrations or prevent anyone from having fun, but as responsible adults, everyone must be aware that there are consequences for their actions, long after the partying has stopped.
“Things like on-street drinking, loud music and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated, and there will be a heavy price to pay for anyone who ignores the campaign’s message; not just financially, but in terms of risking a criminal record which could affect career prospects, and even plans to travel or work abroad.”
The campaign is being led by Belfast City Council in partnership with the PSNI, universities, students’ unions, Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, and religious/faith organisations in the Holyland and wider university area.
PSNI district commander for south and east Belfast, Chief Superintendent Alan McCrum, said police wanted everybody to have a safe and enjoyable day while being respectful of the rights of others, particularly long-term residents of the Holyland area.
He said: “We are working very closely with all our partner agencies and residents to ensure that people can enjoy themselves safely and sensibly, while respecting other people’s right to a quiet and peaceful day.
“My officers will deal robustly with any incidents of criminal and anti-social behaviour. We have proactively increased our neighbourhood policing team patrols ahead of the event and will maintain a heightened presence throughout.
“I would appeal to everyone to think before you behave in a way that might result in a criminal record; do not ruin your future in a moment of madness.”
Queen’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tony Gallagher said: “The university and its Students’ Union are committed to making sure that this year’s St Patrick’s Day is the happy and sociable occasion that it should be for everyone.
“We have invested significant resources to help improve community relations and, in conjunction with all other partners, we reinforce the message that there are far-reaching consequences for anti-social behaviour.
“Our students have been, and are being, reminded that, if any of them are found to bring the university into disrepute, they will be subject to the full rigours of our strict disciplinary code.”
Professor Alastair Adair, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Communication and External Affairs at the University of Ulster, said: “The University of Ulster is reminding our students of their responsibilities to the communities they live in, and urging them to be respectful and considerate of local residents and communities while they enjoy the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. At the same time, we will, as always, act swiftly to discipline any of our students identified as engaging in anti-social behaviour which tarnishes the good name of the university.”
Adrian Kelly, President of the University of Ulster Students’ Union, said: "The students’ union is again working in participationwithother organisationsto ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable St Patrick’s Day this year.
“We would ask those celebrating to be mindful of other people whomay not want to celebrate the day in quitethe same way, and to be both mindful and respectful of this."
Jay Downs, Vice President Community, Queen's University Students' Union, said: "The students' union has committed itself to working closely with all of the involved stakeholders to achieve results together. Students and long term residents both have a right to enjoy the day, and people cannot forget their responsibility to respect their neighbours and the area.
"We are working closely with University of Ulster students' union and the college chaplaincies to provide a large number of student volunteers to help make the day pass as safely as possible."
Employment and Learning Minister, Danny Kennedy, said: "St. Patrick's Day is normally a time for celebration and should be welcomed as such. Last year's celebrations wereanimprovement on the previous year andI would like tosee this trend continue.
“My message to students is,by all means enjoy yourselves, but do so in a responsible manner and in a way that shows respect to your neighbours, be they long term residents or, indeed, your fellow students."
"I would like to commend Belfast City Council's Inter-Agency Group as this is yet another example of their continued good work in trying to address the problems in the area."
The campaign is highlighting some sobering thoughts for anyone who is tempted to ignore the advice of respecting others:
- damage to houses, shop fronts or other public property could result in a fine of up to £500
- anti-social behaviour could lead to expulsion from university or college
- if you are caught drinking on the street, you could face a maximum fine of £500
- if you are caught making excessive noise, you could be fined up to £5,000
- a criminal record could seriously damage your career and travel plans.
There has been a direct mail-out to around 7,000 homes in the university area and the campaign is also being supported by radio and posters, as well as online.
For more information about the campaign visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/respect