With classes resuming at the college this week, members of UL’s senior leadership have engaged in nightly walking tours of local residential estates in conjunction with An Garda Síochána.
The aim is toe engage with students, remind them of public health guidelines and their responsibility to the local community around the UL campus.
The community response plan, which UL has designed along with gardaí, aims to ensure that new and returning students can live and learn as safely as possible in the context of Covid-19.
UL has also allocated further resources to gardaí to increase its capacity to undertake community engagement activity over the course of the coming weeks.
We are fully aware that this situation is difficult for students in what should have been one of the most exciting weeks of their lives.
“Our presence is to show a shared responsibility for community welfare through direct visibility with gardai who are out in the normal course of their work,” said Prof Mey.
“We are hoping that our presence will help with the message that for students, behaviour in the general community is directly linked to their status as a UL student.
“UL takes its civic responsibilities very seriously and has worked with gardai, community representatives and the University’s representative body, UL Student Life, to try and reinforce the message that everyone must take responsibility for their actions. The safety of staff and students has always been a priority and it is vital that students take responsibility for their actions, follow the public health guidelines, limit their social contacts and stay safe.
“We are fully aware that this situation is difficult for students in what should have been one of the most exciting weeks of their lives – but they must follow the advice and heed the warnings, or they risk putting the people they love and the wider community at risk by their actions."
Chief Superintendent for the Limerick Garda Division Gerard Roche said: “The assistance of UL to help us engage, educate and encourage the community is welcomed. In supporting the COVID-19 public health guidelines, we need everyone to double down on the tremendous efforts they have made here in Limerick.
“We need everyone to limit the contact they have with each other. Whilst you may feel safe at home and think it’s ok to have friends over or have a party, you are putting your health, their health and everyone you come into contact with afterwards at risk. It is vital that you continue to play your part by limiting contact with others - this will save lives."
The initiative comes after criticism of NUI Galway students who were part of a gathering of hundreds of people in Galway city on Sunday night.
Local Fianna Fáil Senator Ollie Crowe even suggested deploying the army to prevent similar incidents.
He said: "I’m sure the army could assist certainly the gardaí in Galway city. Look at the end of the day, in excess of 30,000 third level students here, and we have to have a coordinated approach."
Gardaí have subsequently agreed to share the addresses of house parties with NUI Galway authorities as part of joint efforts to prevent large gatherings.