Concerns that the riotous scenes of previous years could be repeated, or even surpassed, have abated somewhat after Galway gardai confirmed the majority of students taking part in this year’s ‘unofficial’ Rag Week celebrations have been behaving themselves.
A spokesperson for Galway Garda Station told the Advertiser yesterday that an extensive operation had been put in place to tackle anti-social behaviour with extra gardai out on the streets ensuring their presence was felt during what was expected to be a tumultuous time in the city. However, It has been confirmed that there was “none of the hassle seen before” and “very few arrests made”.
The increase in anti-social behaviour as well as the negative publicity received in recent years - including a number of damning YouTube uploads of riot-like behaviour - led to both NUI Galway and Galway Mayo Institue of Technology cutting their ties with Rag Week.
However, a social media page called ‘Galway Rag Week 2013’, set up in January, quickly gained followers with the result that thousands of students, from Galway and further afield, began celebrations last Monday night with reports of some anti-social behaviour in areas such as Newcastle and a large gathering outside Supermacs in Eyre Square. The following day, there was a sea of gold and green jerseys as revellers partook in what was described as ‘Donegal Tuesday’ starting with a lengthy queue outside one city centre pub from 10am onwards. It is understood that the main celebrations are due to finish tonight and Galway gardai are hoping that the relatively good behaviour will continue.
Raising and Giving
Earlier this week, NUI Galway issued a statement which read: “The university condemns unequivocally any anti-social behaviour by its students. As and when individuals concerned in such behaviour are identified as NUI Galway students, the university has and will continue to deal with them by means of the disciplinary process as outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.
“The student body, through the Students’ Union, voted and agreed in 2011 to cancel College Week. The university strongly welcomed and supported this decision. Activities in a number of city venues in Galway this week have not been recognised by the university or the Students’ Union and the convergence on the city by students from other towns and cities travelling by bus and train is well reported.”
Meanwhile, Raising and Giving (RAG ) Ireland, an award winning grass roots movement for social change is calling on the public to see beyond the usual stereotypes and for students to get involved in bringing back the real values of this event.
According to the group, RAG Week has lost sight of its original concept of Raising and Give Week and has instead developed into a week of anti-social behaviour over the last few years. However, more than 1,500 students in Dublin, Limerick, and Tralee have joined RAG Ireland is calling on more students to become active in contributing to Irish society all year round and bring the real meaning of RAG back to their campuses.
Co-founder of RAG Ireland, Daithí de Buitléir, explains: “I think a lot of students have become fed up with how they are portrayed, specifically around the time of RAG Week. When we started RAG Ireland we thought it would be great if we harness the enthusiasm students employ to enjoy themselves and channel it into social change that starts on campus but reaches out to the community. Each RAG hub activates and supports students all year round to volunteer, to fundraise, to set-up community projects – we are passionate about making Ireland a better place to live in.”