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Riot police called to disturbance

17 March 09 23:08 GMT

Twelve people have been arrested during disturbances in south Belfast.

Police were called at about 1500 GMT to Carmel Street in the Holylands area where a car had been vandalised.

Hundreds of St Patrick's Day house parties in the area had spilled out on the streets, and a small minority threw cans and bottles at police.

Police remain in the area, mainly populated by students, which has been the scene of disturbances on St Patrick's Day in previous years.

Carmel Street has reopened to traffic and the area is said to be calm.

Local private homeowners said the disturbances proved there were too many shared houses, flats and multiple occupancies in the area.

Ray Farley of the Holyland Regeneration Association said: "The university should think again - their policy is not working and they have let down all the residents here.

"This behaviour cannot be tolerated in a modern civilised society."

Student residents insisted that a small minority were involved in the violence.

DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt said: "The disgraceful scenes witnessed today are only the latest manifestation of a continuous problem in the area caused by the bad behaviour of a section of the student population, and some other young people in the area.

"It is time the local universities adopted a zero tolerance approach and expel those identified as being involved in this behaviour."

Alliance MLA Anna Lo said "Students should behave themselves like the grown-ups that they are. They are part of the community and so should act responsibly.

"Both universities have done great work in trying to deal with the problems in the Holylands area, but after watching today's events it is obvious that more must be done."

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