Socialist Society statement on Holylands

24 03 2009

The clashes in the Holylands area on St Patrick’s Day were unfortunate and avoidable. Only a minority of people partaking in the festivities in the area where involved in the smashing of car windows or aggressive behaviour. However the intervention of the police in full riot gear was only ever going to escalate into violent clashes.

 

The Socialist Society condemns the action of the minority of young people involved in the incidents. Although we do not accept that the hysterical denouncements from politicians and the media who have sought to tar all students with the same brush. Instead students along with residents from the Holylands and other areas in the university area need to ensure that events such as Tuesday afternoon are not repeated in the future.

 

We feel that the Students’ Union needs to play a leading role in ensuring any anti-social behaviour that does occur is dealt with by students and residents themselves. In future when large events are coming up the Students’ Union should organise marshalling of areas such as the Holylands, Lower Lisburn Road, Elms Village and Stranmillis. If this was introduced on an ongoing basis could much more effectively deal with crime and anti-social behaviour in the area.

 

So far an approach by the University of disciplining students after an incident has occurred and a non-interventionist campaign of the Students’ Union against anti-social behaviour have done nothing to resolve these issues. Democratically elected local committees made up of ordinary students and residents will allow them to directly deal with any problems that may arise.

 

With almost daily announcements of job losses and a worsening economic climate the conditions for rioting are growing. Unless the issues of high unemployment, poor housing, increasing tuition fees and a lack of youth facilities are not dealt with then more rioting is inevitable. The Socialist Society stands for immediate investment to provide jobs and decent public services that will cut across angry young people fighting with the police. Mass action uniting workers, students and youth can take the lead in opposing these conditions. If this is not achieved then a repeat of Tuesday’s clashes are inevitable.

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