St Patrick’s Day and the Holylands: oh, the shame!

When I was a young man I rarely went out for a pint. Or two. If I went out drinking with my equally scurrilous friends, we had one ambition: to get pleasantly tanked. The amount of wise things we said then, the occasional scuffles we engaged in, were part of learning to be adult. Meanwhile, to be alive and young was very heaven.

Has the rest of the grown-up world had that key part of their memory-bank burgled, or were they always the dull, upright dogs they are today? I listened to a discussion on the BBC ‘s TalkBack programme today about the drinking and irresponsibility of students in Belfast’s Holylands over the St Patrick’s Day period, and was not so much struck  as bludgeoned by their shock-horror at some of the things the Holylands young people have done, and how best to prevent them doing anything like them again this year.

I know drink is bad for you, and excessive drink worse. I also know that when you’re young, you do silly, stupid and gloriously uninhibited things that you abandon when you get older and ‘get sense’.   But if the custodians of good behaviour have their way, anybody that gets langers this year in the Holylands will risk finding themselves kicked out of college and maybe with a criminal record. The off-licences have nodded solemnly and agreed to shut shop for most of Paddy’s Day.

Has anybody been killed in the Holylands over the St Patrick’s Day period in the past decade? Anybody seriously injured? That’s good. Daft, yes, drunk, yes, dead , no.

How different from the recent clash between factions of the UDA in Carrickfergus, which has left one man dead and the expectation of further violence and possible death very real. The peace-loving people there, we’re told, are feeling frightened and helpless. A bunch of students robbing you of your beauty sleep begins to seem not all that terrible.

Wouldn’t the continued existence of paramilitary groupings, clearly armed, be a real cause for public outcry and demands for police action?  Suddenly, the Holylands behaviour of students seems what it is: the indiscretions of youth. Try not to envy them too much.

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76 Responses to St Patrick’s Day and the Holylands: oh, the shame!

  1. fiosrach March 15, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    The existence of landlords of multiple properties, some quite coy about exact numbers, should be the arbiter of the behaviour of their tenants. This is usually the case in other areas,is it not?

    • Scott Rutherford March 15, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

      Fiosrach, I do not see why just because a person rents a property to a tenant they are in any way responsible for the behavior of that tenant. Especially when they break the law with on street drinking, anti social behavior, destruction of property etc. Surely its a matter between the individual breaking the law and the police.

      These students are after all 18+ and are adults not children that need mothered. They are responsible for their own actions surely.

      • fiosrach March 15, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

        So you think,Scott, that the landlords should bear no responsibility for the way their tenants behave?

        • Scott Rutherford March 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm #


          • fiosrach March 15, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

            Any damage done to the palaces and the landlords will be quick enough to assume control of the deposit.

          • Scott Rutherford March 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

            And why shouldn’t a landlord take tenants deposit money if the damage the property? Don’t see how this and urinating on a neighbours wall or smashing up the local telephone box are related?

  2. Michael March 15, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

    Drinking on St Paddys day = bad
    Drinking on the 12th = what drinking?

      • Michael March 15, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

        That was last year.
        Nothing was done.
        In fact large bins were provided in order for the street drinkers to put their empties in. These were generally ignored. Far from cracking down on street drinking, police operations being held and off licenses being closed.
        I work on a main thoroughfare in Belfast.
        100s of drinkers brought slabs of beers and chairs and plonked themselves within yrds of a major police station. Police ignored them both from within the station and as they walked past them.

        To be honest, personally I don’t have much of a problem with street drinking at these infrequent events as long as people behave themselves and tidy up after themselves. However this is not the case.

        I don’t see reports on the news for nights leading up to the 12th about “significant police operations” to curtail street drinking.

        • PF March 15, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

          The point, Michael, is not to condone alcohol misuse at the 12th, but to note that something, rather than nothing was done by the organisers.

          Beyond that, it is not me who is explaining away loutish behaviour.

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

            Providing bins for the street drinkers to put their empties in isn’t what I would call discouraging street drinking.

            If the police, the authorities, the council and news outlets are willing to put up with vast amounts of street drinking across Belfast and beyond on the 12th then they should be willing to do so at what is mostly one concentrated area in Belfast.

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

            Oh whatever, Michael.

            I wasn’t talking about results, however successful or unsuccessful, I was pointing out that somebody tried something; there was at least a recognition of the problem and an advertising campaign. But if that still equates to “what drinking” in your mind, so be it.

          • Scott Rutherford March 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm #


            Ever think that the bins were possibly intended for food waste etc and not alcohol?

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

            Scott, no I didn’t.
            Ya know why?
            Because there were posters stuck onto the bins regarding alcohol.

        • Michael March 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm #

          “Oh whatever”
          Really? Lol
          How mature.

          Street drinking ignored on one day but on another day there’s “significant police operations” to curtail it.

          Can’t have it both ways.

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 7:03 pm #


            Yes, it is a mature response to your:

            “Drinking on St Paddys day = bad
            Drinking on the 12th = what drinking?”

            When quite simply you are wrong.

            I don’t, however, expect you to admit that.

            Perhaps you had another reason for you initial jibe; but only you can answer that.

            Either way, in an entirely non-sectarian way, I’m opposed to the public misuse of alcohol, the intentional or unintentional intimidation of residents (yes ‘residents’ – with all the implications of that word in our society), and out of control students or bandsmen masquerading as people of either intelligence, culture or both.

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

            Quite simply I’m not wrong when I say street drinking is ignored on the 12th but on Paddys Day there are “significant police operations” to curtail it.

            So I find “Drinking on St Paddys day = bad. Drinking on the 12th = What drinking?” succiently encapsulates that.

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

            Just because one of your soundbites “succinctly encapsulates” your thinking, doesn’t mean it is in anyway meaningful to the rest of us who read it.

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

            Then why respond if it isn’t meaningful?
            Again and again and again.

            I’ve explained my initial post a number of times now.

            Street drinking on the 12th is treated much differently than it is on St Paddys day.

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

            “Then why respond…
            Again and again and again.”


          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 7:38 pm #

            Kinda hard to argue against what is patently obvious eh?

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

            Or step out of a sectarian mindset?

          • Ernsesider March 15, 2017 at 8:17 pm #

            I think you too should meet for a pint and a chat instead of …!!!???

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

            So pointing out the differences between the way 2 groups are treated for the same actions is now sectarian?

            Very funny.

            You’re reaching now.

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 9:38 pm #

            Not at all, just asking.

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 10:18 pm #

            Struggling to counteract my point re 2 groups being treated differently for the exact same thing so resorts to alluding to a “sectarian mindset”.

            Not immature at all.

            Is this the kind of thing Jude was talking about the other day?

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 10:26 pm #


            Had you expressed a clear opinion about two groups being treated differently and backed it up with some kind of reference instead of making a trite comment then it might have been possible to pursue some kind of conversation – but when you begin with a one-versus-the-other approach and even after my link the Irish News make no attempt to interact with that report in a positive way then we were never going anywhere.

            As for Jude’s opinion, you’d need to ask him.

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 10:51 pm #

            I expressed my opinion and then explained it several times.
            If you won’t or can’t counteract that argument then so be it.
            If you want to accuse me of a “sectarian mindset” because you can’t counteract that, so be it.
            But remember it’s you that’s played the man and not the ball here.

            Good night.

          • Jude Collins March 16, 2017 at 10:52 am #

            PF – don’t accuse people of having ‘a sectarian mindset’ without very solid evidence. That equates to saying they’re sectarian. And that verges on defamation. So no more ‘sectarian mindset’ calling. Argue as much as you like/think appropriate, but no (actionable) abuse.

          • PF March 16, 2017 at 5:43 pm #


  3. paddykool March 15, 2017 at 4:45 pm #

    By the sound of things it seems it has really gone completely daft in the Holylands…and i don’t mean Jerusalem…. these past few years.Are young people any different to what they always were ?.Are they even dafter and crazier than we all were fifty years ago , fuelled on cider,party sevens , home-made ale and a little light reefer, speed or acid? I doubt it .We never really indulged in much hard liquor like “shots” of course .Who could afford that kind of booze? We couldn’t and there was no bar offering them at a pound a pop. No supermarkets full of cheap, tastelesss booze either .As a student ,you either ate or you boozed …it was difficult to afford both except by stockpiling , so maybe they too much cash to flash nowadays . Of course young people drink to get loaded and wrecked whereas us oldsters do it for purely medicinal purposes every night at eight bells….. onwards…
    Me ? I blame the parents every time.

    • NSGOK March 16, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

      Instead of berating the students of the holylands why don’t you people go out and ask the students who live in the holylands and who pay rent in the holylands what they think? Are students not residents of the holylands for the 8-12 months they live there? I’m a student, I was sitting in my garden with my friends and we were chatting last night then a police van turned on to the street and immediately stopped outside my house and they jumped out and said we were causing anti-social behaviour. We weren’t shouting, we weren’t playing excessive music and also stopped two officers ten minutes before just to ask them if we were allowed to drink in our garden, which they said yes to and then the van that stopped completely contradicted them and said we couldn’t. That would agitate anyone, not just students. But everyone says the students are the problem. It’s easy to throw accusations when you’re outside looking in.

      • giordanobruno March 16, 2017 at 1:17 pm #

        Ok what do you think?
        Who are the hundreds of young drinkers we see every year?
        How should it be dealt with?
        Probably you and your friends were not causing any problem, but clearly that is not always the case.
        The houses on those streets are terraced with tiny front gardens.
        It would not take much to impact on the neighbours.

        • NSGOK March 16, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

          What difference is St Patrick’s day to easter or Christmas or new years? People go out, be sick and fight in their own home towns and that isn’t broadcast in the weeks leading up to and following it. I’m not going to lie, I don’t know what to do or how to sort the problem. And I will be the first to admit that yes some students do cause problems but the vast majority want to be respectful of the residents. There’ll probably be at least 1000 people on my street tomorrow. Will they all live in the holylands? I’m getting interviewed today or tomorrow to voice the students side. We don’t want to cause problems. Representatives from the council need to hold a meeting with student representatives of students. It might not resolve the problem but students want themselves to be seen as trying to fix the problem rather than be the cause of it.

          • jessica March 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

            Ask for better accommodation options in other parts of the city.

            In the mean time, ask them to make the landlords take better care of their properties, make them increase the standards on said properties and introduce a cap on rental prices for students. All of these will make the landlords think twice about the type of tenant they would be prepared to rent to and perhaps make students feel more inclined to take care of a property that is more comfortable and accommodating.

            Ask them to look closer at the core root of the problem rather than what we always do, point the blame at the more obvious visual manifestation that may have a more discrete cause.

  4. PF March 15, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    To draw a connection between loutish behaviour and the UDA or other paramilitaries is a false comparison.

    It is possible, and necessary, to address the obvious problems in the Holylands on St. Patrick’s Day without resorting to “Oh, look, thosens over there are worse.”

    Yes, we know they are worse, that doesn’t mean that St. Patrick’s Day in the Holylands is not a problem.

    • jessica March 16, 2017 at 10:54 am #

      The problem with the holy lands is nothing to do with St Patricks day, it is the disparity of young people concentrated in one area among elderly and families.
      I think around 80% of the households are habited by people aged between 18 and 24.

      At that age I would have been delighted there were street parties and drink and I would not have thought twice about the problems it would cause for others all year round. With age I would not think the same way now but I understand totally why it happens.

      There has to be limits put on student accommodation in a single area, say 40% and that means finding alternative accommodation elsewhere which requires money.
      It would not be difficult to make that money but would require ending the status quo to speed it up.

      The solution I believe would be not to prevent either celebrations for st Patricks day or the 12th, but to embrace them.

      Whether we like it or not, both are part of our collective cultures, and yes, excessive drinking is part of Irish culture. It wont be stamped out overnight and attempts to do so will be resisted to the determinant of our young people.

      What is needed is funding for a celebrations for both, that would be welcoming to both communities. With non offensive music, bouncy castles, barbeques and food, beer tents with proper security so families feel safe. Traditional dancing, pipe bands and so on, there are lots of things would make it a huge attraction for our young people as well as a tourism draw if we do it right and make both a celebration which would attract visitors from all over the world.

      Derry is a good example of how to make the most of these things.

      Bonfires should meet health and safety requirements in size, location and contain no pollutants such as tyres to receive funding.

      Others should be gradually applied for an the local community made responsible to clean them up if they choose to have their own in their own back yard.

      If there is one huge event for each then it will draw the most attraction and these other more troublesome events will have less attention and be easier to manage for police and at less expense.

      It would be money well spent and that is our problem, we resist things and waste money policing our own intransigence.

      • Scott Rutherford March 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

        Well said Jessica

      • Michael March 16, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

        I agree Jessica.
        As I said earlier personally I don’t have a problem with street drinkers at these infrequent events as long as those taking part behave themselves and clean up after themselves.

        My problem was the differing attitudes and treatment of 2 sets of street drinkers at these events.

  5. PF March 15, 2017 at 5:14 pm #

    I’ll put it this way, if anyone here thinks themselves happy with the unHolyland St. Patrick’s Day behaviour, why not open up your own, street, road, avenue, park to close as an alternative.

    No doubt the council will be round in a few days to pick up the litter and wash away the vomit.

    And, before anyone turns this into a sectarian argument, when it happens on the 12th or at any other festival, religious, political or cultural or otherwise, yes, it’s unacceptable then too.

    And that includes any of the so-called upitty ‘middle-class’ versions which are springing up all over the place too.

    Bottom line, if you can’t keep sober in public and you can’t respect the neighbourhood around you, stay at home – go inside and do what you have to do behind closed doors.

  6. billy March 15, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    all right if you dont have to live beside it.
    walk across some of their das farms throwing tins,plastic begs,and bottles about and they will let you footage is the way to go with a few examples made 2yrs jail so they carry it with them,and kicked off the course their on will put the antics out of them.mum n dad will be shattered.

  7. Mark March 15, 2017 at 6:12 pm #

    Jude, tranona oiche duit.
    On the matter of scurrilous behaviour of, largely Tyrone and Armagh students in this part of Belfast south, the key interest here is not the absentee landlord’s, rather the poor suffering residents whom own their properties, and unlike landlord’s, pay rates there.
    My wee lassie was speaking to my wife about this yesterday, my wife making the point,’ your Daddi is from mid-Ulster and never behaved like them’ which is quite true.
    Once young people coming down to Belfast to study drank like fishes but could recognise when they’d had too much and in good behaviour, go back to dig’s where they went to sleep, having lectures next morning at often 09.00 hrs.
    It is about time the two Universities stepped up the sanctions on behalf of local residents, and their liaison personnel stopped passing details of complaining residents to the students.

    • PF March 15, 2017 at 6:29 pm #


      The Universities might also ask themselves, why, in many cases, their students (customers) are paying a lot of money for a scant number of hours teaching.

    • fiosrach March 15, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

      Do landlords not pay rates? Since when?

      • Scott Rutherford March 15, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

        That’s news to me also fiosrach.

      • Scott Rutherford March 15, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

        • fiosrach March 15, 2017 at 10:22 pm #

          I remember one smart aleck trying it on to get my son and his friends pay the rates in the Holyland.

  8. giordanobruno March 15, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

    I think it is the sheer scale of it that makes it so intimidating.
    It is not a few lads staggering past your window on a friday night, which is what Jude appears to imagine.
    Maybe he should do a bit of investigative research this week and report back to us.

    • Michael March 15, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

      Would you say the scale of it is bigger or smaller than the city wide street drinking on the 12th?

      • giordanobruno March 15, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

        Pure whataboutery
        What happens on the twelfth is depressing and needs to be addressed.
        There is of course city wide drinking on St Patrick’s Day too.
        It is the concentrated mass of young people getting pissed in a small residential area which we are talking about here.
        Have you any view on it all other than ‘what about the twelfth”?

        • Michael March 15, 2017 at 10:54 pm #

          Rather than a sprawled mass of people throughout the entire city lining the streets with blue bags, empty cans and card board boxes?

          I notice you didn’t answer my question.

          • giordanobruno March 15, 2017 at 11:31 pm #

            God Almighty your whataboutery is depressing.
            It’s almost as though you think it is a good argument.
            See if you can find any thoughts on the holyland and get back to me.

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 11:39 pm #

            No answer to the question then.

            You can find my thoughts on the situation further above but you know that already. Thing is though both you and PF know what I’m saying is right and neither of you can counteract it.

            St Paddys Day street drinkers are treated differently than 12th July street drinkers.

          • PF March 15, 2017 at 11:51 pm #

            But, Michael, if it were merely “street drinkers” we were talking about, there’d be less of a problem.

            We are talking specifically about the problems of the Holylands, area.

            And, for the sake of clarity, when it happens on the 12th, I oppose it as well.

          • Michael March 16, 2017 at 12:07 am #

            And I’m talking about the differing attitudes and treatments of St Paddys day drinkers and 12th July drinkers.

            At the risk of repeating myself one group is allowed and the other has a “significant police operation” involved to combat it.

          • PF March 16, 2017 at 12:15 am #

            “And I’m talking about the differing attitudes and treatments of St Paddys day drinkers and 12th July drinkers.”

            And that’s fine, but given that this article is about the Holylands, and the well documented problems there, then it’s no wonder we are lost in a mire of misunderstanding.

          • Michael March 16, 2017 at 12:21 am #

            There is no misunderstanding at all.
            I’ve made a point you can’t counteract so you’re doing your best to dance around it and avoid the point made at all costs.

          • Michael March 16, 2017 at 12:24 am #

            Also, in case you missed it the article is also about the attitudes towards and treatment of these street drinkers in the Holylands.

        • PF March 15, 2017 at 11:00 pm #


          Don’t waste your time.

          • Michael March 15, 2017 at 11:08 pm #

            Truth hurt?

          • Billy Pilgrim March 16, 2017 at 12:48 am #

            “We are talking specifically about the problems of the Holylands, area.”

            But what, specifically, are the problems you are talking about, if not street drinking?

          • PF March 16, 2017 at 9:04 am #

            I must apologise. Obviously nothing much has been happening in this Holylands area, and the 12th is wall to wall disorder, ignored by all.

            I must pay more careful attention in the future.

          • giordanobruno March 16, 2017 at 9:16 am #

            Yes it is a waste of time.
            What might have been a moderately interesting discussion on the problems in the holyland area is dragged off into ‘whatabout the twelfth’.
            I am pretty sure that in July Jude will have one or two pieces up about the twelfth,if he hasn’t shut us down by then.
            That to me would be opportunity to examine those issues.
            Ah well.

          • Michael March 16, 2017 at 9:28 am #

            PF/Gio you are both wrong.

            No one is saying, well I’m certainly not, that one set of street drinkers are simply merry revellers and the other is loutish thugs.
            But you both know that because I’ve explained it over and over again and yet both of you have failed to address the point.

            Street drinkers on St Paddy’s day around the Holy lands are treated differently both in attitude and action than street drinkers on the 12th.
            Both are publicly drinking. One set is dealt with a ” significant police operation” the other is ignored.

            Neither of you have even tried to address that inconsistency but instead have played the man. That tells me you can’t address the point because it’s patently true.

    • Jude Collins March 16, 2017 at 10:57 am #

      There you go again, gio. I simply asked ‘Do you remember when you were young? Were you always the sober, upright citizen you now are?’ In my experience, as a student and a lecturer, learning to drink is part of the student experience. I’m reminded of the Puritans who were very strong against cakes and ale…

      • giordanobruno March 16, 2017 at 11:12 am #

        I did the same sort of thing myself of course.
        But I was not part of a crowd of hundreds taking over a few small residential streets.
        Saying there is a problem with hundreds of young people getting pissed and taking over these streets is hardly akin to puritanism
        Do you think it is a problem at all, or should the residents just move out as some revellers have suggested in the past.?

    • Jude Collins March 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

      No, gio, I depend utterly on informed people like yourself. I’ve a broken fut, remember…

  9. Scott Rutherford March 15, 2017 at 6:57 pm #

    I remember a few years back on a holiday in Vienna visiting a outdoor film festival which also had a market with several bars. There was a park next to the market and people took their drinks and sat in the park which was beautiful. The atmosphere was completely diffrent to here, no one was obviously drunk and despite there being a couple of hundred people drinking and eating the park was spotless as people cleared up after themselves.

    I remember thinking that this just couldn’t happen in Ireland or the UK. We don’t seem to grasp the concept of moderation or have the right kind of drinking culture for these types of outdoor events for alcohol to be involved in.

    • fiosrach March 15, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

      Saw the same scenario in the US. No drunkeness and all tidied up. At an outdoor Irish gathering.

  10. joe bloggs March 15, 2017 at 7:30 pm #

    I know Judey hates double speak and hypocrisy (not to mention abuse, sectarian bias or misogyny).

    So you heard it here folks: feel free to dress up in Rangers tops, wave Union Flags, dance on cars and antagonize your neighbours. You are only young once.

    • Michael March 15, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

      I must have missed that bit.

    • Ernsesider March 15, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

      I think the Orangies have most of that covered the playful little rascals ..??

      • Ernsesider March 15, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

        But what the heck ..!! It only happens about three thousand (3,000) times a year ..!!!

    • Cal March 16, 2017 at 6:07 am #

      What relevance is the football top being worn have in this situation ? Street drinking is a nuisance but I don’t see the compelling reason why the holylands should be the only area of the north where street drinking laws must be upheld while ignored everywhere else come July time.

    • Jude Collins March 16, 2017 at 10:58 am #

      Don’t call me Judey, Shirley…

  11. Gerard March 16, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    As one GAA commentator said, the day of the all Ireland hurling final should be our national day of celebration as ‘we were playing hurling before we were praying’.