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Students set up tents in Fellows' Square on Trinity's campus László Molnárfi
trinity college dublin

Trinity students set up encampment after accusing college of trying to 'scare' them into silence

Yesterday, the students’ union was fined €214k by the college for their persistent blockading of the Book of Kells tourist experience.

A NUMBER OF students at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) have started an encampment on campus amid a dispute with the university over their right to protest.

Yesterday, the students’ union was fined €214k by the college for their persistent blockading of the Book of Kells tourist experience over issues such as postgraduate workers’ rights, fee increases and the the college’s ties with Israel.

They were also warned of potential disciplinary sanctions including suspension, expulsion, and exam disqualification, if the fine isn’t paid by the end of the month.

TCDSU accused the college of attempting to “scare students into silence”.

Students have now imitated American universities by camping out on their campus as a form of protest.

In a post to X, TCDSU President László Molnárfi says they are demanding that the college “cut ties with Israel” amid its war with Hamas and the humanitarian crisis it has caused.

TCD has been contacted for comment.

Earlier today, TCDSU sabbatical officers met with Provost Linda Doyle to discuss their “differences”.

In an email to students, Doyle said: “We met earlier today and discussed a number of issues. While there are differences, we can also see the benefit of engaging proactively on these together.

“We also discussed the war in Gaza, and I shared some of Trinity’s ongoing work.

“As any further information becomes available, I will of course share it with you.”

No more than an hour later, students had begun erecting tents in Fellows’ Square, beside the Nassau Street entrance to the campus.

People Before Profit-Solidarity Mick Barry TD shared a graphic on his X account, calling on people to “help secure” the encampment “now and all weekend”.

“TCD, you can’t hide! Not one cent for genocide,” it reads.

Academia for Palestine TCD said it is “appalled” by the college’s actions in recent days and fully supports the students’ encampment.

“Our students are showing moral leadership where College has shown none.”

Senators’ letter

The Seanad’s civil engagement group today released a statement saying the college was setting “dangerous precedent”, and claimed the fine was “designed to produce a chilling effect”.

The payout of €214,000, they say, will directly impact the union’s ability to provide important services, given it equates to more than 20% of the union’s annual budget.

The college said that it supports students’ right to protest “within the rules of the university”, but that interference with the Book of Kells “had a negative financial impact as visitors could not enter”.

“Trinity has an obligation to protect the Book of Kells which is a national treasure,” they said.

Senator Lynn Ruane, a former TCDSU president, says she’s “deeply disappointed” by the college’s “intimidation” of students. 

“Protest by its very nature is disruptive, but it’s an action which is both a constitutional right and a fundamental part of our democracy, and something we must always protect,” she said.

Senator Tom Clonan told The Journal he believes Trinity must’ve been “under considerable pressure” to have reached the point of fining students.

He says the college’s concern with the financial implications of the protests is “telling” of how “precarious” its income is and a need for better state funding for universities. 

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