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Arrests following St Patrick's Day attacks on police

Arrests following St Patrick's Day attacks on police

Police have come under attack from crowds of St Patrick's Day revellers in Belfast.

Disturbances erupted in the Holylands area in the south of the city when a crowd of around 300 young people gathered in the streets in the early hours of Thursday.

Three men were arrested and one police officer was injured during the trouble, which lasted more than two hours.

The Holylands, an area where many college and university students live in multiple occupancy homes, has witnessed similar scenes of disorder on past St Patrick's Days, with over-indulgence in alcohol the main factor.

Police attended the scene in Agincourt Avenue at around 2am when they received reports of young people blocking the road and throwing bottles at homes and cars.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said calm was restored at around 4.30am.

The three men arrested on suspicion of a number of public order offences are aged 19, 20 and 21.

The injured officer was struck on the shoulder by a bottle.

PSNI Superintendent Darrin Jones said: "Police will continue to have a visible presence in the area over the coming days.

"I would strongly encourage people to consider the long- term consequences of engaging in any anti-social or criminal behaviour. This could lead to you receiving a fine and a criminal record.

"Police will be on the streets of Belfast over the forthcoming busy bank holiday, to ensure anyone wishing to travel, work or socialise in Belfast can do so safely."

Assembly member for South Belfast Claire Hanna condemned those responsible for the disorder.

"It's sad that some chose to celebrate our patron saint and national day by abusing police and frightening residents," said the SDLP representative.

"The vast majority of young people and students can enjoy themselves responsibly over St Patrick's Day but those who engaged in the disturbances last night demonstrated an astounding lack of judgment. It must be made clear, and in no uncertain terms, that this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable.

"PSNI and council community safety teams will be working to ensure there is no repeat of this tonight. I urge people to be sensible about their drink intake and to show consideration to their neighbours and the police.

"While it is likely that many of those on the streets last night were not students, any students that were involved must reflect seriously on the damage they have now done to their reputation and that of their classmates. They must also carefully consider the impact that this kind of stupidity can have on their future."