Northern Ireland news

Belfast's Holylands residents to hold week of family-friendly St Patrick's celebrations

St Patrick's Day in the Holylands in south Belfast last year. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

HOLYLANDS residents are holding a week-long series of family-friendly events for St Patrick's Day.

The 'Spring Gathering' hopes to showcase a positive image of the mainly student area of south Belfast, which has become notorious for St Patrick's Day anti-social behaviour.

The festival will include a street céilí, a drumming circle and community street market.

On St Patrick's Day itself, a celebration will be held in the grounds of Union Theological College from noon to 4pm.

Accidental Theatre at Shaftesbury Square will also have events including the Orpheus Ball, featuring Irish musicians from across the island.

The festival is being coordinated by the South Belfast Partnership Board, and is funded by Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities.

Brid Ruddy, a Holylands resident and South Belfast Partnership's community director, said it has had "small beginnings but is continuing to grow".

"We are a highly diverse range of communities working collaboratively in the area to deliver such a great event," she said.

The festival will take place from St Patrick's Day to March 24. Visit southbelfast.org for more details.

Last year almost £9,000 of ratepayers' cash was spent tackling Holylands disorder over the St Patrick's holiday period.

It recently emerged that Belfast council had approached Stormont's justice department about extending to council officers the PSNI's powers to confiscate alcohol and issue fixed penalties.

But the idea has not been progressed because there are no ministers at Stormont to pass such legislation.

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