Northern Ireland news

PSNI to dedicate 'substantial resources to policing' Holylands area

A clear up of the area early yesterday. Picture by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

POLICE yesterday issued seven Covid-19 notices to young people in the Holylands area of south Belfast.

Officers also issued three prohibition notices at properties hosting parties in the area, in the early hours of yesterday.

In addition, a 20-year-old man who had been arrested on Tuesday night for disorderly behaviour, was arrested on suspicion of breaching bail and appeared before a court.

The actions by police come after concerns were raised about hundreds of students partying in the Holylands area both indoors and outdoors, ignoring public health regulations amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It had also be reported that some young people were paying £20 to party in some of the shared housing sparking fears for other residents living in the area that it could become a hotbed for coronavirus.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Robin Swann said "urgent and coordinated action" was required following the "deplorable" actions in the area.

A new ministerial-led group involving the PSNI, Belfast City Council and representatives of the universities working with junior ministers from the Departments of Justice, Communities and Health has since been set up.

Both Queen's and Ulster University said any students found to be flouting Covid-19 regulations risked facing expulsion.

Yesterday, Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said the PSNI would "continue to dedicate substantial resources to policing this area as we work with our partner agencies and the universities to address this ongoing issue.

"In addition to robustly addressing all incidents of antisocial of criminal activity, where appropriate, we will be sharing the details of students have failed to follow the Covid regulations with the universities, who will then consider a range of sanctions," he said.

Mr Kirkpatrick added: "The young people congregating or travelling to this area really need to consider their actions for their own health and that of the community.

"A large number of people are acting responsibly but there are a few who continue to behave recklessly and are causing disruption for the local community."

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