Belfast students involved in anti-social behaviour on St Patrick’s Day could be expelled, universities have warned.
The announcement follows a series of incidents in the predominantly-student Holyland area of South Belfast in recent years.
In 2009, riots broke out after hundreds of people spilled out onto the streets from house parties, leaving two police officers injured after they were pelted with bottles and stones.
Records obtained by The Irish News reveal that more than 1,800 anti-social behaviour complaints have been made in Belfast’s Holylands in the past three years, while council officials have confiscated 30,000 alcohol units - the equivalent of 15,000 cans of beer.
This year, students at Ulster and Queen’s University have been warned to stay away from the region, with severe consequences for those caught up in any trouble.
Ulster University’s vice chancellor Paddy Nixon told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am not prepared to allow such unacceptable behaviour to continue, so we will apply the severest sanctions possible, up to and including dismissal from the university.
“I do not want any Ulster student to face criminal convictions for anti-social behaviour or find themselves facing disciplinary action as this will have a long-term impact on their chosen career path,” he said.
A spokesperson for the university added: “We are proud of our role in the community and the positive contribution our talented students make to society but we will not tolerate any level of anti-social behaviour by a minority who bring their institution into disrepute.”
Several Holyland’s off-licences are set to close on St Patrick’s Day to help prevent trouble in the area.
Professor David Jones, pro-vice chancellor at Queen’s University Belfast said: “Queen’s staff will be on the ground in the Holyland area throughout this week and during St Patrick’s Day itself, supporting the PSNI and Belfast City Council in their robust enforcement of legislation in relation to anti-social behaviour.
“A strict off-campus disciplinary code is in place, and if any Queen’s student is found to have brought the University into disrepute, they will be subject to the full rigours of this code.”