Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Holylands violence - self-perpetuating

Another Saint Patrick’s Day, another riot in Belfast’s Holylands. Trouble in an area which is now overwhelmingly populated by students has become self-perpetuating. The common perception of the neighbourhood behind Queens, between University Street and the Lagan, is that the population consists of out of control, cider deranged, hurley stick clutching student savages, living cheek by jowl with predatory sex offenders. Consequently the more, to avoid sounding like an erstwhile UUP election campaign let us say ‘conscientious’ student, tries to avoid living there. And long term residents continue to move out.

It has been suggested that the universities should take responsibility for their enrolees and do more to combat anti-social behaviour off campus. Certainly expulsion offers a strong disincentive and would deprive trouble makers of the very reason they are resident in Belfast in the first place. Although attributing blame is never easy in such instances.

Clearly something needs to be done in order to break a damaging cycle. The Holylands might be the most conspicuous example, but Saint Patrick’s Day revelry does tend to acquire a certain frisson in Belfast which is missing elsewhere.

Yesterday I caught a bus from the City Hall travelling along the Lisburn Road. It was full of Celtic shirt wearing, tricolour waving, bottle-clutching teens going who knows where. These youngsters were clearly underage, blatantly quite drunk and determined to share a repertoire of songs lauding violence inflicted on the police. It was an unpleasant journey shared by a number of elderly people and children.

Saint Patrick’s Day is by no means unique amongst cultural events in Belfast in being accompanied by a certain amount of yobbery. And the actual City Council events are relatively innocuous, albeit that the trappings surrounding the events are not particularly inclusive in their representation of Irishness. It is sad that the day is being tainted by incidents such as the rioting in the Holylands.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. And despite the Council propaganda the day certainly IS NOT INCLUSIVE. It still resembles and nationalist and republican coat trailing rally.

Timothy Belmont said...

Drinking booze on public transport ought to be unlawful or, at the very least, an infringement of Translink regulations.

Could the driver have stopped the bus, contacted the police and their depot, and waited some moments before evicting the offenders. In theory.

Tim

Chekov said...

Tim - It's certainly not allowed on buses generally. I believe private hire buses might be an exception. I'm sure theoretically he might have done what you suggest. All the young hoods headed unto the upper deck of the bus, so it might've been difficult to pin point definite perpetrators. A heard a Translink official advising the driver what to do if there was trouble. Still, for the safety and comfort of other passengers it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Getting buses in Belfast tends to be both unpleasant and over-priced. Had I not been concerned about parking the car in the city centre yesterday I wouldn't have taken the bus.

belfast samizdat said...

I lived in the Holylands for 18 years. It's worse than you think. Have a look at my blog:-

http://holylandswarzone.blogspot.com/

Alan