VIDEOS OF a major student street party in Limerick have drawn outrage from the public as Ireland enters its third month in lockdown.
Yesterday evening, videos of a street party in UL's off-campus student accommodation College Court began circulating on social media after being taken from Snapchat.
— aoife k (@aoifek__) March 2, 2021
The videos showed a party-- which had apparently been ongoing for several hours at that point-- involving a large group of students, with no social distancing or mask wearing.
— Kieran Ryan-Benson 🇮🇪 (@kieranryan999) March 2, 2021
Further footage showed fireworks being let off on the street, narrowly missing the crowd of students who had gathered on what would, in usual times, have been the UL RAG Week.
Our inbox is full with the following Video which appears to be college court this evening pic.twitter.com/cYTyFZFQGD
— Limerick Now (@limerick_now) March 2, 2021
The footage has drawn fury from residents of Limerick, as the county was one of the worst-hit spots in the country for the Covid-19 around Christmastime, but cases had dropped steadily until an outbreak led to 250 new cases among UL students in recent weeks.
The University of Limerick has been offering free testing to all of its students in an attempt to bring the outbreak under control-- and following the scenes in College Court, the college now says it will "take action with strong disciplinary measures against any student who has been found to have breached public health guidelines".
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.
— University Of Limerick (@UL) March 2, 2021
Minister for Further Education and former Health Minister, Simon Harris, said the scenes in Limerick "are completely unacceptable and a slap in the face to everyone sacrificing so much.
"It does a real disservice to all students who abide by the rules day in and out," adding that he has spoken to UL and is aware that an investigation has been launched.
"Any student in breach of restrictions and regulations must and will face serious consequences," he warned.
Students like everyone have suffered a lot with #Covid19. The scenes in Limerick tonight are completely unacceptable & a slap in the face to everyone sacrificing so much. It does a real disservice to all students who abide by the rules day in and out. I have spoken to @UL tonight
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 2, 2021
Following an initial investigation, Gardaí have confirmed they arrested 3 men and issued 30 fixed penalty notices for Covid-19 regulation breaches.
A"significant number" of its units had attended the scene at the student accommodation, and following "continued and orchestrated non-compliance" the party was broken up at around 7.15pm.
"Gardaí 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."
“Gardaí in Limerick will continue to provide high visibility patrols in the vicinity of the University of Limerick campus and surrounding residential areas to check compliance to Covid-19 regulations and keep the community safe,” the statement added.
“The Covid-19 pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochana continues to appeal to all citizens to demonstrate personal and social responsibility to comply with public health guidelines and regulations in order to continue to save lives.”