Cork students praised by Gardai for their behaviour during RAG week

Cork students praised by Gardai for their behaviour during RAG week
Students drinking

Community Gardaí in Cork have said there have been no major issues with RAG week this year, and they want to commend students' behaviour during this week of celebration.

RAG week, or raise and give week, is a week where students raise money for charity.

The week is also associated with going out and excessive partying, and some Irish university's RAG weeks became so notorious they were cancelled, such as NUI Galway's.

In previous years, Cork's RAG week saw some students engaging in anti-social behaviour, from drinking on the street to urinating in public.

In recent years a crackdown has occurred, with Gardaí, UCC authorities, Students' Unions and campus security issuing harsher penalties to students causing disruption to local residents. 

However, this year's UCC RAG week has been quiet, and students have been very well behaved, according to Community Policing Sergeant Michael O'Connell.

"It has been suburb this year. It's been a pleasure to work with the students. I have worked every day of it so far, Sunday evening to last night.

"There are yellow jackets on the streets and we have been engaging with students. They have been very well-behaved. The residents are delighted.

"The number of incidents of drinking in public on the street is down, the house parties have been kept under control."

Sgt O'Connell said that the Gardaí have worked closely with the colleges and the Students' Unions of UCC and CIT. "We can now seize a student's student card if they are creating a nuisance on the street or are disrupting pedestrians, but not necessarily committing a criminal offence.

"If we seize a UCC student card, there is a €50 fine to get it back. CIT came on board this year and their students have a period of 48 hours where they can't get it back.

"Without a student card, you can't get into the library, in CIT you can't get grub [in the canteen]. It acts as a deterrent."

However, Sgt O'Connell says the students have been "outstanding" this year. "There have been no major incidents or incidents of note. There has been no hassle, they have just been out socialising and having fun, which is their right.

"The local bars were happy with the students and there were no issues in the queues."

Sgt O'Connell adds that the Gardaí put extra resources into RAG week this year and it "paid off".

"I think the students felt reassured we were on the street... in light of what has happened with the recent death [in the college community].

"They seemed comfortable with us and we weren't in their face or anything like that."

The sergeant also wanted to commend the student volunteers who patrol the streets and ensure their fellow students get home safely. 

"These student volunteers don't partake in the going out part of RAG week, and they assist students who have had too much to drink in getting home safely. Last night when I finished my shift around 4am some of these students were picking up rubbish."

UCC's RAG week finishes tonight, and Sgt O'Connell expects it to be busy, especially because the UCC hurlers won the Fitzgibbon Cup.

"The students should get credit though, they need a bit of positivity in light of recent events."

CIT's RAG week is scheduled to take place between 24 - 27 February.

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