Hundreds of students who gathered at a street party in Limerick are now facing suspension – and even possibly expulsion – from university following their “deplorable behaviour”.
The University of Limerick is carrying out an investigation into the large gathering at the off-campus College Court estate in Castletroy on Tuesday night.
Healthcare workers, government ministers and Limerick locals have condemned the chaotic scenes which unfolded.
More than 50 fines have been issued for a breach of public health guidelines and two young men arrested following the incident are now due to appear in court.
One man, aged in his 20s, will appear before Limerick District Court today, while another man, also in his 20s, is due in court on March 22.
A third man arrested was released without charge, but received a fine.
UL representatives met with gardaí yesterday morning and a joint investigation into the matter is ongoing.
“The university is conducting an investigation to identify any UL students who took part in the gathering, which represents a serious breach of both the public health restrictions and the institutional code of conduct,” a spokesperson said.
“Students at UL are subject to a code of conduct. Any student found to have attended the gathering will face suspension, pending a full investigation, or possible expulsion.”
UL has already sanctioned a number of students since January who have been officially reported, investigated and found to have broken the UL code of conduct relating to the current Covid-19 environment.
Justice Minister Helen McEntee warned yesterday that the country will not be able to reopen as planned if incidents like the party in Limerick continue.
Frontline workers have also condemned the action of these students. A Limerick nurse described student parties which have occurred near the esteemed campus as “out of control”.
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 disturbing scenes, in which flares and fireworks exploded near cars, houses, and groups of student revellers.
“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.
The east Limerick city area currently has the sixth worst Covid infection rate in the country.
Castletroy business owners said they are concerned that the careless actions of this small minority will jeopardise any reopening.
A short distance from UL, the The Hurlers Bar, a hugely popular bar with students and other customers, has seen trade decimated under lockdown.
Proprietor Anthony O’Dwyer said he is “disappointed” at the actions of those who breached health guidelines in the area which he agrees could lead to a rise in cases locally and prolong the closure of his pub.
Meanwhile, students at NUI Galway who breached public health guidelines have been asked to write a 2,000-word ‘reflective’ essay.
Sanctions have been imposed on a small number of students who have not complied with the university’s code of conduct during the pandemic.
Some have been asked to pay fines to the student hardship fund, which provides financial support to students who are struggling, while others had to write apologies to staff affected by the breaches.
Students were also asked to write reflective essays about their actions.
A NUI Galway spokesperson said: “NUI Galway currently has a student community of almost 19,000.
“The vast majority of our students have adhered to the public health guidelines, conscious of keeping themselves, their families and the wider community safe since the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
“The university can confirm that it has imposed sanctions under the student code of conduct on a number of students in relation to breaches of public health guidelines.”
In Cork, resident associations admitted they are terrified of a fourth spike in Covid-19 cases as a direct result of student parties in multi-occupancy houses with the improving weather.
The Magazine Road and Surrounding Areas Residents Association (MRSARA) warned they are terrified there will be a repeat of last summer’s raft of Covid-19 house parties in their area of Cork city.
Members of the residents’ group last summer made history with the first prosecution against a private landlord for failing to control his tenants.
Last September they revealed their community endured 221 house parties within a 1km radius over 13 weeks during the Covid-19 lockdown.
MRSARA chairperson Catherine Clancy said there is a direct link between such house-street parties and spikes in Covid-19 cases.
“Last summer we witnessed hundreds of young people coming here and renting these (houses) and not adhering to regulations,” she said.