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Concerns over late-night student behaviour fuel residents' objections to Trinity accommodation plan

In May, TCD lodged plans for 358 extra bed spaces for its student accommodation at Trinity Hall in Dartry.

File image of the Trinity College Dublin campus.
File image of the Trinity College Dublin campus.
Image: Shutterstock/Rob Wilson

CONCERNS OVER LATE night, drunken rowdy behaviour by students living at Trinity Hall in Darty has spurred Dublin 6 residents to say ‘no’ to a large extension planned by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) for the site.

In May, TCD lodged plans for 358 extra bed spaces for its student accommodation at Trinity Hall at Dartry in a number of blocks rising to seven storeys in height. 

The proposal involves the demolition of the existing Cunningham House which contains 70 student bedspaces. 

There are already 995 bedspaces on site and the proposal will increase the number of bedspaces to 1,283. 

Consultants for TCD have told An Bord Pleanala that the proposal will “deliver and operate a best in class student residential scheme at Trinity Hall”. 

They state that the proposal will compliment and enhance the existing student residences on site and provide well designed living accommodation to facilitate learning and social development. 

However, the plan is facing strong opposition from locals who allege that drunken students leaving the existing student residence urinate, vomit, scream and shout. 

Residents of Temple Rd, Dartry, Martin and Mary Thornton allege that the students’ “drunken and disorderly behaviours including singing and screaming at the top of their voices, drinking and urinating in public, smashing glass bottles and walking in the centre of the road with total disregard for their own or others’ safety”. 

The Thorntons state that considering “the high concentration of third level students already in this small residential area of Darty, we believe that the proposal to increase student numbers by over a third is totally unacceptable”. 

In another objection, Myles Lee and Louise Lee state that this is a quiet residential area “and we already suffer significant disturbance from the student body, activity and vibrancy on the part of such a large cohort belongs in Temple Bar or Harcourt Street”. 

The Lees state that they suffer significant noise and nuisance on a regular basis between 10.30pm and 11.30pm due to the large numbers of drunken students exiting Trinity Hall and heading to the local Luas stop. 

They state: “Screaming, shouting, urinating on the street and a trail of empty cans and bottles are typical features of this night time exodus.” 

Another local, Edward Grant, told the appeals board that male and female students urinate in public on Temple Road against trees and walls as well as in private residences. 

Grant alleges that intoxicated students regularly vomit on the roadway as they make their way down to Milltown Luas stop  

Grant stated that there has been a vast improvement with a huge reduction in the amount of litter and noise pollution on the road following the closure of the student accommodation due to Covid-19. 

Two other local residents, David and Grainne O’Meara through their legal representatives, state that they have sent TCD eight letters and held meetings over a three-year period over what necessary steps TCD was to take to prevent regular anti-social behaviour by residents of Trinity Hall. 

The letter states that the O’Mearas are demanding TCD put in place various security measures. 

The letter states that the O’Mears intend to take legal action against the Provost of TCD, Dr Patrick Prendergast and/or TCD should they incur further damage, loss of threats from the tenants of Trinity Hall. 

Another Temple Rd resident, Derek McNamee, state that on most nights during term time, “drunken hordes” emerge from Trinity Halls. 

McNamee state that the resulting noise levels “make it impossible for us to use the bedrooms at the front of our house”. 

He states that “in these circumstances it is entirely unreasonable for them to be given permission to further increase their student population”.  

An objection from another 17 residents living along mainly Merton Rd and Palmerston Rd states that local residents have frequently had legitimate complaints regarding the anti-social – and on many occasions indecent and aggressive behaviour – of some students especially when under the influence of alcohol. 

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They state: “Most of the houses in the area, especially on Temple Rd, have had to install electric gates as a result, since students use this route to access the Luas at the Milltown stop and often relieve themselves along the way especially at night time.” 

A spokeswoman for TCD declined to comment on the contents of the residents’ objections concerning students’ alleged behaviour.  

She did state: “Dublin has suffered from an acute shortage of student accommodation for many years. This development will go some way to adding to the supply of necessary accommodation in Dublin and provide housing for students from every part of Ireland. This will, in turn, reduce pressure on other parts of the market.” 

A decision is due on the application next month.

‘Concerning’

In a statement, the Trinity College Dublin Students Union president Eoin Hand said that the objections were “deeply concerning” as they come in the midst of a national housing crisis.

“The proposed development, while not a solution to the systemic issues at hand, is set to offer accommodation to students at a more affordable price than existing options,” he said. “We hope that this will help to reduce the current barriers to Higher Education faced by students in Ireland. Third Level Education is a right for everyone, not just for those who can afford extortionate rents.”

The reported issues of anti-social behaviour and the proposed redevelopment at Trinity Hall are separate matters. The conflation of these issues comes at an opportune time in the planning approval process and are intended to halt this crucial redevelopment.
Trinity College has demonstrated a commitment to addressing the reported anti-social behaviour experienced by the residents of Temple Road.

He said that there are already a number of existing measures in place at Trinity Hall. “These include a shuttle bus service between the residence and nearby LUAS stop, full-time wardens and security personnel who are stationed to ensure the safety of both students and nearby residents,” said Hand.

“Trinity College has a strong disciplinary policy in place to hold students proven to be participating in anti-social behaviour accountable for their actions.”

We are extremely concerned that the damaging allegations made by nearby residents fail to represent the broader population of students in Trinity Halls and misrepresents the efforts made to tackle these reported issues.

Hand said that as Student Union president in Trinity, and former Halls resident, he has “never seen anything like the scenes depicted in these objections”.

“Unfortunately, this objection is likely part of a history of complaints, but it is important to note that we cannot be certain that the behaviour they allege came from Trinity students. The reality is that Dublin urgently needs more affordable student accommodation. The plans to build further student accommodation will be of a huge benefit to students but will also contribute to the reduction of pressure to the Dublin housing market.”

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Gordon Deegan

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