Students at the University of Limerick who were involved in a street party in Castletroy last night could face expulsion, the Higher Education Minister says.
Simon Harris says the gathering was an "attack on the national effort" to suppress COVID-19.
Three men in their 20s were arrested over the incident, while over 50 fines have been issued for breaches of the Health Act.
One of the men has been charged for a public order offence, while a second was released without charge but fined.
The third man, who was arrested in relation to a drugs offence, remains in Garda custody.
University of Limerick President Kerstin Mey says any students found to have breached public health guidelines will face 'strong disciplinary measures'.
She added that anyone found to have broken the university's code of conduct could face "temporary suspension and possible expulsion".
On Lunchtime Live, Minister Harris said the scenes were 'beyond unacceptable' and there has to be serious consequences.
He said: “This is an attack on our national effort.
"Anyone who goes out and breaks public health rules is actually trying to set us back as a country. It is utterly, utterly indefensible.
"Not too far away from those scenes in Limerick, there are patients fighting for their lives in University Hospital Limerick... there are nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants and others working around the clock to save lives.
"To say it was a kick in the gut or slap in the face to that work is probably an understatement."
Minister Harris said the incident is being taken "extremely seriously" by gardaí.
He has also spoken to the the UL president, and disciplinary action ‘up to and including’ expulsion will be examined for any students in breach of rules.
He said: “I don’t want to prejudice the process, but in my conversations with the [university] president… that’s absolutely the intention of the university.”
However, the minister said it's important not to tar all students with the same brush, as most have 'sacrificed a hell of a lot' and are following the guidelines.
He said it's other students who feel 'desperately let down' by what happened in Limerick last night.
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey, earlier, said in a statement that she was meeting with senior Garda representatives over the incident.
She said: “We have appealed to our students time and again to recognise their personal responsibility in following public health restrictions.
"However, it is clear that there is a small minority among our 16,500 students who live in off campus estates who are consistently ignoring government and institutional guidelines."