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There's an interesting discussion over at Slugger centred around the Holylands blogger (who was today exonerated of all, apparently trumped up, charges of "harassment"). He recently republished an article by Suzanne Breen describing the terror inflicted on on the few remaining residents in the Holylands by the "slack-jawed bog-trash from west of the Bann" (not his quote).
According to reports the police have been even more inept and useless than we've come to expect; multiple commenters claim the police in south Belfast are happy to ignore the whole area, refuse to take statements (or occasionally even turn up) when violent assaults are reported, and I'm sure I remember reading one comment that claimed officers in other parts of the country describe their south Belfast colleagues as lazy bastards (or words to that effect) and that's saying something [that comment seems to have been removed]. It's been suggested by multiple commenters that the police are reluctant to alienate significant numbers of middle-class Catholics, but one would question whether it's any worse being seen as an enemy than a joke.
The more I read into it the more depressed I get. Comments suggest the culprits seem to be disproportionately University of Ulster students (though I'm sure Queen's has it's fair share), culchie and (according to a republican former prisoner, up until recently resident in the Holylands) Catholic, but the blame goes much wider than the students themselves. On top of the police refusing to do anything about it, the universities don't seem to be doing enough either. Sure there are a few posters around the Student's Union every now and again but the "punishments" for those identified as behaving anti-socially amount to no more than a strongly worded letter or a small fine. There is also something fundamentally wrong when students are able to repeat first year practically as many times as they like and universities.
There needs to be an end to the idea that university is a place to go solely to drink and doss on free money, so here's what I suggest (just for starters).
- End bursaries for students from "low-income" families immediately. Loans should bypass students altogether and go straight to the universities for tuition fees, with an extra £3k or so on top to go towards living expenses.
- Put serious effort into identifying anti-social students and actually take some action, e.g. expel repeat offenders.
- Put a limit on the number of times students can repeat first year/transfer after failing so if you fuck up there are actually some consequences.
- Universities should make more of an effort to stop students from east of the Bann leaving for universities on the mainland. The extra competition for places would raise the entrance requirements overall and remove the extreme morons from the equation.
Other suggestions welcome.