Friday, 27 March 2009

Student Protest Blames Police for St.Patrick's Day Disturbances

-Brendan Hughes

Students yesterday protested to highlight their belief that the PSNI was a major cause of the Holylands disturbances on St.Patrick's Day.

At 5.00pm yesterday (Thursday) evening, approximately twelve students lined the main gates to Queen's University. A small gathering of students observed the protest. Three police officers also appeared to oversee events.

The demonstration, organised by the Socialist Worker Student Society, blamed both the police and the University for what happened on St.Patrick's Day.

Daniel O'Boyle, a member of the society, said, "The violence that happened on the day was the result of police heavy-handedness and brutality." He also identified the "core" of the problem as being the failure of Queen's to provide suitable accommodation for its students.

Last week on St.Patrick's Day, up to 400 young people, students and non-students, were involved in an incident centred on Carmel Street in the Holylands. One car was burnt out, while bricks and bottles were thrown at police on the scene. Nineteen people were arrested, and five have been charged in connection with the disturbances.

A female protester, who wished not to be named, believed that how the police treated students on the day was unfair.
"Girls were hit- I have bruises on my arm from them pushing me down the str

Another protester asserted his reasons for participating in the demonstration.
"I want to change the media perception on it- that the police were right. The same scenes happen when there's band parades, especially on 12th July, and there's no riot police out."

Students who observed the demonstration expressed mixed opinions: Student Mark Dunn said, "From this pitiful showing of students from the Holylands...they are merely adding to the reputation that they have put on the university and its students."

Another bystander in support of the protest believed that students are not completely to blame for the problems in the Holylands.
"A lot of the onus is put on students, when a lot of the time residents also provoke the situation", she said, citing her own personal problems with residents in the area.


In a bizarre twist to proceedings, three unusual protesters appeared on the scene; current Students' Union Sabbatical Officers James Murphy and Fergus McAleavey, and newly-
elected VP Equality and Diversity Paul Lilly. The trio began to protest on issues of their own: While Murphy held a placard saying "The world is flat", McAleavey campaigned on behalf of "Gary Breen" being "number 1", leaving Lilly to shout at the top of his lungs, "Would anyone like a cup of tae!?"

Speaking to The Gown, Lilly outlined his reasons for protest.

"One of my key areas in equality and diversity is that there's not enough tea bein' drinkin'. Now, the word I use for it is 'tae'..."

On a more serious note, Lilly, who himself lives in the Holylands, said, "I think (the protest) is going a bit far now. I don't think that the light they are portraying the police in is a correct one."

Daniel O'Boyle desribed the Sabb's actions as a "attempt to trivialise the protest".

"(The Sabbatical Officers') responsibility is to offer and provide leadership and to represent the interests of students, and (here) they don't seem to be doing that at all."

Students' Union President Ciarnan Helferty has, through this blog, invited the Socialist Worker Student Society to take part in a public debate on the issues surrounding St.Patrick's Day.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Protest Organised

Students have organised a protest to be held on Thursday 26th March at the QUB gates.

A text message is circulating...

"SAY NO TO POLICE VIOLENCE! Student protest on Thur 26th mar at 5pm at qub gates. We demand- proper student acomodation, no2riot police n holylands, no xpulsions due 2 stpaddys day and more support fro unions. Be there 2get ur voice heard! Forward to any students in holylands."

The Gown would like to get the views and opinions of students on this proposed event.

Lilly and Duffy in Second Election of the Year

Paul Lilly and Barry Duffy, both successful in the recent sabbatical election, winning the places of VP Equality and Diversity and VP Education respectively, are running in the up and coming law society elections. The elections which take place on 31st March see the two law students run for the posts of secretary (Paul Lilly) and president (Barry Duffy).

Monday, 23 March 2009

Message from English Society

Dear all
There is a gig in McHugh's tomorrow (Tuesday) night, which will feature Bacchus in the headlining slot, and the Cahier Collective and Connor Hutchen in support. There are a few English students in the line-up, and I'm sure they'd appreciate your support. So, if you fancy a spot of cheap banter tomorrow night, McHugh's is the place to be. Doors at 9pm.

The English Society

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Names of Arrested Released

With the disturbances now rumoured to have cost an estimated £16,000, four names have been released in regard to the incident which took place in the Holylands on St. Patrick's Day.

Alan McCrory (21), from Charlestown Road, Craigavon, faces two charges of assaulting a police constable and riotous behaviour.

Augustine McAleer (19), and Enda Ward (26), both of Loughmacrory Park, Omagh, are each accused of assault. Mr McAleer is further charged with the attempted criminal damage of a police Land Rover, riotous behaviour and resisting arrest. Mr Ward faces a second charge of obstructing police during the disorder yesterday.

Gary Keenan (20), of Carrickbawn Road, Rostrevor, and Darren Connolly, an electrician from Tievenamara Road, Keady, are both accused of riotous behaviour.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Nineteen Arrested in Holylands Disturbances

- Gown Team

Police have confirmed that nineteen people have been arrested and detained after the disturbances in the Holylands yesterday afternoon.

Eleven of those arrested remain in custody, of which five have appeared before Laganside court this morning.

Up to 400 young people, students and non-students, are understood to have been involved in the St Patrick's Day incident, centred on Carmel Street in the Holylands. One car was reportedly vandalised, while bricks and bottles were thrown at police on the scene.

The atmosphere is believed to have intensified considerably with the adversarial intervention of the police, who, using dogs and full riot equipment, attempted to restore order in the area.

While much of the publicity has centred on students, one reveler asserted that the first missile thrown at police came from a Belfast youth unattached to either of the main local universities. Heavy street drinking, reportedly sparked by house parties spilling onto the street prompted the initial presence of the police. Another student alleged that the arrest of a female student gave rise to an aggressive response from onlookers.

MP for South Belfast Alasdair McDonnell has called for the expulsion of students involved in yesterday's disturbance in the Holylands area. In a press statement, the university ascertained that those found to have “brought the university into disrepute” would be subjected to the full rigours of the strict off-campus code.

QUBSU president Ciarnan Helferty stated that, “those involved are a disgrace and an example should, and will, be made of them.”

The Gown gauged the reaction of students to yesterday's events. Many made much of the fact that QUB students are bearing the brunt of the bad publicity. According to one student, “Queen's is getting too much flak, Jordanstown is not taking enough responsibility.” Others questioned whether Queen's had responsibility in this matter, with one student deeming it “a case of individual responsibility...if people are going to be morons, they are going to be morons. Queen's can't change that.” By contrast, some students were more sympathetic: “the media has blown it out of proportion. It was just a bit of craic.”

The Gown can confirm that this evening's shift for the Queen's Annual Fund (currently running a telephone fundraising campaign with student callers) has been cancelled due to the bad press caused by yesterday's incident.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

And the winners are...

President: Shane Brogan

VP Campaigns and Communications Gareth McGreevy

VP Clubs & Societies: Paul Courtney

VP Community: Laura Hawthorne

VP Education: Barry Duffy

VP Equality and Diversity: Paul Lilly

VP Welfare: Susan Kearney

Vote in the Election - 3rd and 4th March 2009

The Gown can confirm that the candidates running for the forthcoming election on Tuesday 3rd March and Wednesday 4th March are as follows…

Students’ Union President

Currently held by CIARNAN HELFERTY

Candidates for 09/10

- Shane Brogan
- Seamas Og MacGiollaCheara

VP Campaigns and Communications

Currently held by JAMES MURPHY

Candidates for 09/10

- Paul Simpson
- Stephen Connolly
- Gareth McGreevy

VP Welfare

Currently held by FERGUS MCALEAVY

Candidates for 09/10

- Susan Kearney
- Adam McGibbon
- Ronan Digney

VP Education

Currently held by KEVIN KELLY

Candidates for 09/10

- Barry Duffy
- Daniel O'Boyle

VP Clubs and Societies

Currently held by PAUL COURTNEY

Candidates for 09/10

- Paul Courtney
- Adelle Archibald
- Conchur Moore

VP Equality and Diversity

Currently held by SHANE BROGAN

Candidates for 09/10

- Sarah Boles
- Veronica McKinney
- Paul Marlow
- Paul Lilly

VP Community

Currently held by LAURA HAWTHORNE

Candidates for 09/10

- Laura Hawthorne
- Gary O’Kane
- Shane Boylan

See this link to read their manifestos…

Candidates for Election Prove Uninspiring

As voting continues in the QUBSU sabbatical elections, a number of enlightening points (beyond those stated in manifestos) arose from yesterday’s poorly attended Q & A session hosted by the debating society in the Space. With the antics of the current VP for Campaigns and Communications, James Murphy, a talking point in the past year, presidential candidate Shane Brogan resolved to take a tough line on underperforming execs, saying he would have “no qualms” about tabling a motion of no-confidence in at the SRC regardless of friendships. Brogan stated that “if you don’t do your job, you get kicked out.”

His opponent, the Law Society’s Seamas Og MacGiollaCheara, appears to have made a mooted rise in fees to 10k per year, and his promised efforts to fight such an imposition, the central part of his campaign platform. However, reliable sources revealed to The Gown that even the most cursory research would have revealed the Russell Group Universities’ new, more modest request of between 6 and 7k per year. Moreover, Seamas Og’s opposition to proposed 5% cuts in Union funding are an apparent misrepresentation; these 5% cuts are, according to current president Ciarnan Helferty, a standard rate across all government bodies in the wake of the current economic crisis.

In the race for the campaigns and communications post, extrovert Stephen Connolly made a bid for Obama-esque oratory, echoing Winston Churchill in his promise to “fight for you in the foyer...and in the snack bar”. He criticised opponents for deeming his proposals vague, saying, by way of retort that he “stands for solidarity, for every member of the student body.” Connolly, in a subsequent interview, was, however, unable to name a favoured form of student finance, a campaign tactic to tackle a proposed fees rise beyond platitudinous calls for solidarity, and seemed unsure of whether he was for or against fees in the first place. Fellow campaigns candidate Gareth McGreevey made much of his work as editor of the Law Society’s magazine, while promising to ensure students are aware of their financial support and entitelements. McGreevey did, however, appear quite light on campaigning ideas. People Before Profit candidate Paul Simpson was unable to attend.

Concerns were also raised about VP Community candidate Shane Boylan; there was no mention of his populist (and some might saw lowest common denominator) slogan of “Feck Fees”, or its relevance to the post of VP Community, in spite of said logo’s ubiquity on campus. Moreover, Boylan has been uncharacteristically quiet about his role as head of the QUB Sinn Fein cumman, with plans revealed to The Gown for bi-lingual signs in the Union also notably absent from his campaigning. Boylan’s vagueness over the community officer’s remit seemed apparent in his resolution to tackle poor student housing (a VP Welfare job). Boylan’s remark on whether he had read an essential review of RAG activities that he had “started it, got halfway through, and killed myself” rang hollow amongst many attendees in light of the recent suicide in Elms village, appearing crass and insensitive for a candidate for the post of “community.” By contrast, Laura Hawthorne, widely acknowledged as a high-performing exec this year, listed achievements in building solid relationships with residents’ groups and the Vintner’s Forum, while relating developments on the increased seed funding for RAG and work in progress on street lighting and a night bus for students attending the Union.

Interviewed after the event, prominent SRC member Damien Corriden raised his concerns with The Gown, stating that “across the board there has been a distinct lack of preparation...candidates don’t seem to be aware of alot of the fundamental issues affecting students.” Councillor Corriden was particularly concerned with the post of Education, with one candiate (Dan O’Boyle) absent and his sole opponent, the Law Society’s Barry Duffy, unable to answer any substantive questions from the floor. Corriden deemed the manifestos “full of platitudes and generalities”, believing that many candiates were running unserious campaigns simply “for the fun of it.” Current president Ciarnan Helferty, who has nominated Shane Brogan, Laura Hawthorne and Susan Kearney (for VP Welfare) added that “alot of the candidates aren’t taking it as seriously as they should...they are insulting the intelligence of alot of students.”

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Credibility of Front Page Story

Due to queries over the credibility of our front page story in the latest edition of The Gown, we would like to state that should anyone wish to see the old flier citing the discriminatory rules of eligibilty, they should email us at and we will forward the flier on to you.


There will be a Gown meeting on Wednesday 4th March at 2pm in the office.