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Universities respond to disciplinary breaches with increased security

Maebh McCarthy

University of Limerick campus authorities are conducting an investigation to identify any UL students who took part in a ‘street party’ that occurred recently. Students at UL are subject to a Code of Conduct and the University has said any student found to have attended the gathering will face suspension, pending a full investigation, or possible expulsion.

The Gardaí issued a statement confirming that more than 50 fines were issued in relation to breaches of the Health Act in the Castletroy area of Limerick in early March. Three men were arrested at the scene, two men in their twenties for public order offences, and the third for misuse of drugs. A number of videos emerged on social media of widespread anti-social behaviour. During this time, a number of flares and fireworks were set off. Recently appointed President of UL, Kerstin Mey, met with senior Garda representatives, and expressed her gratefulness to the Gardaí for their close cooperative partnership. Professor Mey clarified that it was a “small minority of our 16,500 students who live in off campus estates who are consistently ignoring government and institutional guidelines.” 

Liz Canavan, Assistant Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach said that “it would be easy to generalise, but wouldn’t be fair or accurate” and “the majority of young people are doing great and they have missed out on a lot.” Dr Anne Sheahan, Director of Public Health for the HSE South praised and thanked third-level students in Cork and Kerry for their efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19. “This age-group, including third-level students, have made huge efforts in recent weeks to stick to the tough but necessary measures which stop the spread of Covid-19. You have saved lives and are contributing to the falling levels of Covid-19 in the South.” 

UCC Students’ Union (UCCSU) President, Naoise Crowley, praised the “incredible effort by the UCC Community these past few months. Now, we must keep going in the right direction to keep us all safe.” The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronan Glynn, has said that despite a “small number of high profile incidents”, data shows that case numbers are continuing to decline among those aged from nineteen to twenty four. The incidence rate for Covid-19 in Cork is the lowest incidence rate in the country. Dr. Niamh Lynch, a Doctor in the Bon Secours hospital said that Cork people deserve huge credit for doing their part to suppress Covid-19 in the city and county.

UCC recently came into public focus after announcing that campus security guards would be wearing body cameras that allow them to record students living in campus accommodation. In light of this, it was revealed that a number of other Irish Universities already allow their security to use the body-worn cameras on campus. These cameras have become standard practice in UCC, recording both audio and video, since February 8th 2021. Sinn Féin T.D. for Cork South Central, Donnchadh O’Laoghaire, is among those who’ve voiced their dissent at a step that has been described as “intrusive.” Deputy O’Laoghaire told the Irish Mirror: “UCC need to reconsider this. Obviously it’s important that the student accommodation is secure, and that security personnel are safe, but there must be other means of doing that. Taking footage of people in an accommodation setting like that, it doesn’t seem appropriate.”

A UCC spokesman declined to answer specific questions, but told the Irish Mirror that the use of body cams “is increasingly adopted as best practice in security-conscious environments, including other campus accommodation settings across Ireland where the practice is long-established.”