A LIMERICK nurse working on the front line of the battle against COVID-19 has described as “out of control” University of Limerick student house parties, which have recently occurred near the esteemed campus.
UL management are meeting this morning to discuss the worsening situation which saw three young men in their 20s arrested for alleged drugs and public order offences and 30 fixed notice penalties issued by gardai following a student street party in Castletroy last night.
The nurse who lives in the general vicinity of UL called for round the clock garda patrols as well as CCTV to be installed by Limerick City and County Council, following Tuesday night’s chaotic scenes, in which flares and fireworks exploded near cars, houses, and groups of student revelers.
“It’s shocking now, they have broken glass in houses, there was a fire in a house, there are holes in the walls of houses, basically the houses are being thrashed,” said the nurse, who did not want to be identified.
“A garda patrol needs to be permanently in around UL area. There are a few gardai who come and go and they have to go into these (house parties) that could potentially have Covid-19, and then go home to their families,” the nurse added.
“The students are partying up on roofs, and somebody is going to fall off one of those roofs. There is a huge drink and drugs problem in the area.”
Meanwhile, a Castletroy landlord described the recent partying at College Court, near UL, as a “super-spreader” COVID-19 event.
The landlord said, they, along with others renting out houses to students in the vicinity of UL were “afraid” to approach the properties during similar periods of unrest.
“Some of the residents are very frightened. It’s getting progressively worse, I’ve absolutely seen it myself.”
They claimed students danced on roofs, destroyed properties, urinated on the street and took drink and drugs, “all while the country is suffering the economic and health devastation of COVID-19”.
“I am horrified at the ongoing parties going on. Will someone have to get hurt or fall off a roof for this madness to stop,” they said.
The concerned landlord stated there were “gangs of youths loitering on the street” engaging in “lots of vandalism of public and private property”.
“They are even calling Careysfort Avenue, College Court, ‘The Gaza Strip’, an indication of the volatile and lawless zone it has become.”
The landlord praised gardai for doing “a reasonable job when they have been called” but they added, “a lot more needs to be done to return this area to calm”.
They called for gardai attached to the Divisional Drug Unit Garda to patrol the area to act as a deterrent and claimed students had been “intimidating locals”.
“This needs to be tackled now, before somebody gets hurt or worse. We cannot allow this behaviour to go unchecked in a civilised society and the risk of increasing numbers of COVID-19 and its many variants,”, they said.
“This matter needs national attention, as these are super-spreader COVID-19 events and will prevent our society reopening.”
UL student Tadgh O’Toole tweeted his anger at the events unfolding in College Court: “I’m a University of Limerick student myself, sitting at home online now since this time last year praying to get back down to college at some stage before I finish college and then ye see that shit tonight in college court. Will ye just go home tf**k yiz selfish pr***ks #limerick.”
Limerick teacher Sarah O’Connor, disgusted at the partying, tweeted: “Absolutely gutted having seen those videos from College Court in Limerick tonight. All of the sacrifices we have all made absolutely thrown in our faces. Disgraceful.”
Gardai said said they mounted a “significant, policing operation” in College Court, Tuesday night and arrested three males in their 20s for alleged public order and drugs offences, and they issued approximately 30 fixed penalty notices for alleged breaches of the Health Act.
A garda source described Tuesday night’s scenes in Castletroy as “a shit show”.
Gardai said they had initially “attempted to engage with the gathered individual” but were “forced to intervene, following continued and orchestrated non-compliance with Public Health Regulations and failing to comply with directions from An Garda Síochána”.
Gardai have “commenced an investigation into identifying the organisers of this event, and as with all breaches of the Public Health Regulations a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions”, said a spokesman.
President of UL, Professor Kerstin Mey, said: “UL will take action with strong disciplinary measures against any student who has been found to have breached public health guidelines. Students at UL are subject to a Code of Conduct.”
Professor Mey tweeted last week: “In light of increasing concerns about student gatherings in the private housing estates near UL and given the rising number of off campus cases UL is now funding high-visibility COVID-19 Garda policing to be carried out every evening”.
Ms Mey said that on the spot fines for students found in breach of the regulations included a “€100 fine for leaving home without a reasonable excuse: €500 fine to anyone arranging a gathering; and €150 fines to anyone attending a house party”.