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László Molnárfi/TCDSU
stand off

Trinity College campus closed to public amid student protest

Tensions between the college’s senior management and student leaders have escalated in recent days.

LAST UPDATE | 4 May

TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN has said its campus will continue to remain closed to the public amid an ongoing student encampment in protest against Israel’s war on Gaza and the university’s ties to Israel.

A spokesperson for the University has issued a statement saying it supports the right to “peaceful protest”, but that it has closed the campus to the public to ensure that those protesting are actually students there, to ensure the safety of those partaking in the protest.

The spokesperson said that students and staff will have to present ID cards to access the campus.

Upcoming sports and cultural events at the University have been cancelled, while its libraries, Sports Centre, the Book of Kells Experience and other facilities will be closed until “further notice.”

Roughly seventy students are continuing to take part in the protest, and tents have been pitched on the college grounds. Meanwhile, benches have been stacked to block the entrance to the Book of Kells Experience.

Tensions between the college’s senior management and student leaders have escalated in recent days in a stand-off over student protests as the university demands the students’ union pay a fine of more than €200,000 by the end of the month.

Last night, students began a camp-out protest on a square outside the college’s famous Old Library, following the example of a student movement in the US.

“Students at Trinity College Dublin have set up an encampment for Palestine, demanding that their university cut ties with Israel as per BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Santions] principles supported by the vast majority of students and staff,” László Molnárfi, President of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), has said.

Several dozen students were seen setting up tents on Fellows’ Square and displaying banners with messages like “boycott apartheid Israel”.

A spokesperson for the university said that Trinity has “responded to the war in Gaza in several ways”. 

The spokesperson added that the University shares students’ concerns about the war in Gaza, and that it has taken actions in response to the war. They said that Trinity is open to engaging with students and staff who hold further concerns, and that it will continue to engage with Jewish staff and students “who have been impacted”. 

Trinity students have often used blocking access to the Book of Kells as a form of protest, particularly in this academic year, including in the last week by students angry at plans to increase fees for postgraduates.

College management, vexed by the protests targeting its primary attraction for tourists and visitors, responded on Thursday by issuing TCDSU with a fine of €214,000 and ordering it to pay up by the end of the month. 

The Seanad’s civil engagement group released a statement yesterday saying it believed Trinity was setting “dangerous precedent” and claimed the fine was “designed to produce a chilling effect”.

Some Trinity alumni have started an email campaign to the university calling for it to rescind the fine, saying they are “outraged and ashamed” by the move and threatening to withhold any financial donations to Trinity in the future.

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