A Limerick councillor has said local residents in the Castletroy area are afraid to leave their homes due to the risk of catching Covid-19 in the area, calling for the University of Limerick to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for students attending parties.
The area has made national news after video footage circulated online showing large groups of young people gathered in the College Court area for a street party on Tuesday night. The estate is adjacent to the University of Limerick (UL) campus, but is not owned by the college and is largely made up of private landlords renting to UL students.
Limerick City and County Councillor for Limerick City East Elena Secas said she was very disappointed to see the area making headlines "for all the wrong reasons", adding this was not the first time such issues have cropped up.
"The residents in the area have raised recently public health concerns due to the large volumes of students moving into the area, and they say that guidelines are not being adhered to at all.
"Residents are trying very hard to stay safe, following the public health guidelines, and it's unfair to the local residents," Cllr Secas said.
Local people have been fearful of contracting Covid-19 in the area added Cllr Secas, who lives a short distance away, particularly after over 120 positive cases of Covid-19 were detected as part of a large outbreak among UL students in mid-February.
They felt the were no longer safe outside their doors
"Residents got really concerned, and they felt they were no longer safe outside their doors. There were dangerously exposed to community transmission of the virus and obviously, they would feel very vulnerable to anti-social behaviour," she said.
Following previous reports of student parties, UL confirmed they would work closely with local gardaí to increase patrols in surrounding housing estates with large student populations, however Cllr Secas said more must be done.
"We need more patrolling and I think UL need to put in place some very strict rules and enforce them to prevent such an event from happening in the future.
"The best thing they can do now is to communicate to all their students that zero tolerance will apply going forward," Cllr Secas said.
"Students need to take responsibility if they come to live in the local community- they need to show respect to the local community and they need to show respect to themselves," she added.
Acknowledging those involved in Tuesday night's street party represented only a small group of UL's student population, Cllr Secas said: "I am sure most of the students will be well-behaved and working very hard - it's just a minority that engage in such behaviour."
In response to footage of the street party online, the University tweeted: "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."