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new term Video: Hundreds gather for Belfast street party in 'worst night of disturbance in decade'

Belfast Holyland residents have said that they have been left feeling “intimidated, disrespected and scared” in their own homes

Belfast Holyland residents have said that they have been left feeling “intimidated, disrespected and scared” in their own homes after almost 400 young people gathered for a street party.

One resident described it as one of the biggest nights of disruption he had experienced in almost 10 years.

Students have been returning to the area ahead of the start the new university term.

Crowds began to gather in Agincourt Avenue around 10pm on Sunday evening, with noise and loud music continuing until around 4am on Monday.

Police up patrols in the area, they said, as part of an interagency operation.

Three were arrested and over 1,000 bottles of alcohol confiscated.

One resident said it got so bad they left their home to stay with a friend for fear of their property would get attacked.

They asked not to be named. They said recent concerts nearby had led to streams of people coming into the area.

“This has been building up for a while now and nothing is getting done,” they said.

Another said that the community who live in the Holyland area felt “underrepresented”.

They called on police, councillors, landlords and the universities to do more.

"It’s just making our lives hell,” they said.

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“It’s a vicious cycle which happens every year and they have no respect for residents who spend all year dreading September.”

They said during the disturbances they heard homophobic and racist abuse directed at residents as well as carrying out “pointless acts of destruction and casual violence” smashing glass bottles and kicking car wing mirrors.

“Someone is going to get seriously hurt, whether it be an animal or a child or one of them, they have no regard for anyone else.”

Police officers were in attendance on Sunday evening, lining the streets.

They confiscated over 1,000 bottles and cans of alcohol. Three people – two aged 20 and one 19 – were arrested and reported to the Public Prosecution Service.

Chair of the Belfast Holyland Regeneration Association, Raymond Farley, said that Sunday evening’s incident was “unfortunately nothing new” but it was “extraordinarily bad” in comparison to other street parties in recent years.

“It’s just making life hell for everyone in the area, both residents and the sensible students who aren’t taking any part in this,” he said.

“This year there has been a whole new level of badness, but the difficulty is that this is a new generation who comes along each year with the same idea that they can get away with whatever they want, nothing is learnt from previous years and it just gets worse year on year.

“There is a real lack of any sanctions of any kind for this behaviour so there is no effectiveness on stopping it happening,” he added.

“The sanctions need to be very severe for this to finally come to an end, that’s what it’s come to now.”

Chief Inspector Gavin Kirkpatrick said police responded to six reports of anti-social behaviour, loud music and groups of people gathering.

“We have reported two 20-year-old males and one 19-year old male to the Public Prosecution Service for disorderly behaviour and obstruction and attended three house parties where residents complied with our directions. We also recovered and disposed of over 1,000 items of alcohol from mainly young people gathering up in the area.

“While there was no disorder, officers spoke with a significant number of people who were outside residential properties in the area.

“I again remind those people who have moved to the area to take personal responsibility for their behaviour. You have a responsibility to be good neighbours as the residents of this area are fed up dealing with anti-social and criminal behaviour on their doorsteps.

“We need parents and guardians to speak with their young people, to ensure they know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. Parents and guardians who allow young people to visit friends or attend parties in this residential area are not helping this situation.”

He added: “We continue to work with the universities, further education colleges, our partner agencies, local residents and community representatives to address any antisocial or criminal behaviour in the area. Where appropriate, we will also liaise with the universities and colleges who will consider their own sanctions against any students involved.

“We have dedicated substantial resources to policing this area throughout the coming weeks and will robustly address any antisocial behaviour or criminal offences.”

Ulster and Queen’s universities have ben asked for comment, as too have Belfast City Council and Belfast Metropolitan College.

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