Tuesday, September 14, 2021

David Raleigh

The University of Limerick (UL) has been funding garda patrols in estates near the Casteltroy campus for the past week, to help keep local residents “safe”, following a number of violent incidents and parties involving large gatherings of students, a University spokesman confirmed.

UL had previously financed garda patrols in the estates after a massive street party last March, which allegedly breached Covid-19 public health guidelines. A number of arrests were also made for alleged drugs and public order offences.

The patrols ended later, however, UL confirmed that they began funding “extra garda patrols” in the same flashpoint areas last week, following a number of incidents.

Garda patrols

“UL is working with An Garda Síochána and funding extra Garda patrols of the estates in the vicinity of the campus to help keep everyone safe,” a UL spokesman said.

They added that “while UL cannot be a responder to off-campus incidents, which are the jurisdiction of An Garda Síochána and other relevant agencies, any student who has been officially reported, investigated and found to have broken the UL Code of Conduct will face sanction”.

It comes as gardaí appealed for witnesses after a concrete bollard was thrown through the front window of a house in the College Court estate, the same area where the massive street party took place last March.

“A number of youths picked up a large concrete bollard and hurled it through the front window of a house at Carysfort Ave in College Court, Castletroy at 2.31am last Saturday morning. The window was completely smashed, the incident was quite frightening to the residents in the house who were asleep at the time,” a garda spokesman said.

“There was a large number of students around Carysfort Avenue and College Court, in general, in the early hours of last Saturday morning. If you were one of them and you witnessed this incident, then we would like to hear from you, please contact the Gardai at Henry Street Garda Station at 061 212400,” they added.

Local Green Party councillor Sean Hartigan, said “thousands” of students have partied in the estates in the past week.

A video circulating online, purports to show a house in the College Court estate, destroyed after a student house party. In the video a chair is seen stuck in a wall, and a glass door smashed and a bathroom also destroyed.

It’s like Armageddon.

“It’s horrific for people living there. Last Tuesday and Wednesday nights there were huge parties in there, thousands. The streets afterwards looked like the aftermath of St Patrick’s Day on O’Connell Street in Dublin,” Cllr Hartigan said.

“Not alone had we the bollard thrown through the window of the house in Carysfort, we also had a house that was destroyed; it had chairs stuck through walls, windows smashed, toilets and sinks smashed — it’s like Armageddon — the whole house was wrecked.”

More than 50 fines were issued for alleged breaches of public health guidelines following a street party in the estate last March.

Cllr Hartigan, who is a UL graduate, said: “As far as I’m concerned UL haven’t taken enough notice of this problem down through the years, and I’d like them to do the same thing UCC (University College Cork) have done.

“UCC seem to have more respect for the local residents there, and that’s reflected in their student rules. They have a 30-page document called ‘student rules’, that requires all students to conduct themselves in an appropriate and reasonable manner at all times.”

“It specifically refers to ‘older residents’ and ‘members of the public’. Whereas, UL has a handbook of academic regulations and procedures, which is a very lofty toned and it goes to 90-pages but there is no mention of (off-campus) ‘residents’ in it,” Cllr Hartigan claimed.

“The only mention of anything off-campus in the UL handbook is to say that engagement in disorderly conduct off-campus is a ‘minor offence’, which puts it in the same league as littering and smoking in non-smoking areas on-campus.”

In response, the UL spokesman said the university “spent the summer planning for a return to as near normal teaching as possible this September, while also recognising the need to keep the community safe”.

“UL appreciates that there is understandable concern in the surrounding community about the return of large numbers of young people from across the country. Appeals have been made to those living in off-campus rented accommodation to be responsible and a good neighbour to those around them,” they said.

“The University takes any behaviour that disrupts the campus and local community very seriously and will address matters in accordance with existing procedures outlined in the UL Student Code of Conduct.”

Meanwhile, UL’s Interim Provost and Deputy President, Professor Nigel Healey, appealed “to any landlord renting an off-campus property to UL students to contact the University and report students who engage in behaviour that is likely to bring the University of Limerick into disrepute”.

“We want students to enjoy coming to college, but the University will firmly address behaviour that disrupts the campus and local community in accordance with procedures outlined in the UL Student Code of Conduct,” Professor Healey said.

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