The University of Limerick has ceased funding overtime for six gardaí who had been conducting Covid-19 patrols and checkpoints in areas off-campus and frequented by UL students.
The patrols were introduced following a massive off-campus street party held last March in breach of public health guidelines.
“Additional resourcing for high visibility patrols finished late last month but UL will continue to work closely with An Garda Síochána to remind students of the need to follow government and institutional guidelines,” a UL spokeswoman said.
Earlier UL said it had fined a number of its students and placed others on “academic probation” for alleged breaches of the university’s code of conduct, which informed sources said essentially means that if these same students come to the attention of their university advocate again they may face further sanctions including suspension or expulsion.
In the immediate aftermath of last March’s street party UL warned: “Any student found to have attended the gathering will face suspension, pending a full investigation, or possible expulsion.”
In response to a story in today’s Limerick Voice UL student newspaper, that the university had imposed sanctions on students, a UL spokeswoman said: “University of Limerick has sanctioned a number of students who have been officially reported, investigated and found to have broken the UL code of conduct relating to the current Covid-19 environment.”
“A number of students have received sanctions ranging from academic probation to financial penalties following the public order incident that took place in the Castletroy area.”
The spokeswoman said that “any breach of the UL code of conduct and/or public health restrictions will be investigated and will carry consequences”.
When asked how many students were fined or placed on probation, she replied: “We are not releasing the numbers of students sanctioned”.
The spokeswoman confirmed that “no UL students have been suspended or expelled as a result of the incident”, however she added, “sanctions for breaking the UL code of conduct [include] suspensions and expulsion”.
Videos of the gathering last March were shared online and showed groups of youths celebrating as fireworks exploded near cars and houses in one estate.
A frontline worker living in the Casteltroy area described the scenes as “shocking” and said that they witnessed “students dancing on roofs, destruction of property, urination on the street, and rampant public abuse of drugs and alcohol”.
UL President, Professor Kirsten Mey, said at the time that “on the spot fines” would be issued for breaches of regulations, including “a €100 fine for leaving home without a reasonable excuse; €500 fine for anyone arranging a gathering; and €150 fines for anyone attending a house party” during Level 5 restrictions.
Gardaí and Limerick City and County Council have clamped down on anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, and landlords using illegal waste collectors in areas frequented by UL students.
On the night of last month’s street party, gardaí issued 56 fixed charge notices and arrested five people for alleged public order and drugs offences.
Limerick Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche told a meeting of the city’s joint policing committee last month that gardaí had, in total, issued around 1,000 fixed charge notices in Limerick, including over 350 in the Castletroy and College Court areas.
Gardaí also seized €21,000 of suspected cocaine in College Court, and UL had begun funding overtime for six gardaí to conduct Covid-related checkpoints and patrols in the Castletroy area.
Between January and February this year, Limerick gardaí had issued 319 fixed charge notices on people involved in hosting, organising, and travelling to house parties, despite a year-long public health campaign around social distancing to try to curb the spread of the virus.
During the last UL ‘Freshers Week’ alone, gardaí shut down 35 parties, arrested five people, and issued 30 anti-social behaviour warning notices, all in off-campus accommodation in the Castletroy area.
Today UL said it has “facilitated four rounds of rapid Covid-19 testing carried out by HSE on the UL campus since December 2020”.