Dublin uni Gaza camp welcomes 'partial victory'

Student protesters Dublin drone shot
Around 100 students have formed an encampment at Trinity College Dublin [PA]

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has met with student protesters and outlined a range of measures which it hopes will end an encampment on its campus.

However, students have said they will continue their protest until all of their demands have been met.

On Friday, dozens of students erected tents, calling on the university to end all business and academic links to Israel due to the war in Gaza.

In a statement on Monday evening, TCD said it was in "solidarity with the students in our horror at what is happening in Gaza".

The university said it has "initiated a process to divest from investments in companies that have activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and appear on the UN Blacklist".

Trinity is setting up a task force, including student representatives, it added, to discuss preserving academic freedom "while understanding better how we engage - or not - with states that are in contravention of human rights".

The university also condemned "the ferocious and disproportionate onslaught in Gaza" and welcomed the International Court of Justice's interim ruling in South Africa's genocide case against Israel.

'Partial victory'

Those involved in the protest called Monday's developments "a partial victory" but said they intend on continuing their encampment.

In a statement, BDS representatives confirmed they met with TCD to discuss their demands and "negotiate future actions".

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, a non-violent movement that promotes cultural, academic and economic sanctions against Israel in protest at its treatment of Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs.

Protesters at Trinity
Members of the public have also protested outside of Trinity, which has closed its grounds to non-students [PA]

On the university's decision to divest from UN blacklisted companies, a BDS spokesperson said: "While we appreciate these steps are being taken, we note there are more Israeli companies in the endowment fund as well as suppliers and exchanges that the university has ties to."

The group added: "We cannot stop yet. This is the time to push Trinity College Dublin to divest from all Israeli companies in the endowment fund as well as suppliers and exchanges."

The students have also welcomed the university's decision to treat the encampment as an internal matter, rather than a police one.

What are students protesting in Dublin?

Last Thursday student newspaper Trinity News first reported that TCD students' union had been fined €214,000 (£183,000) over campus protests.

The demonstrations had focused on the university's response to the war in Gaza, as well as proposed course fee hikes and increased accommodation costs.

TCD cited a loss of income as a result of recent protests at the Book of Kells tourist attraction, which is located on the university campus, but said it supported the right to protest.

Students' Union President László Molnárfi told BBC News NI that TCD had "essentially declared war" and the student body intended to "escalate" its campaign.

On Friday night students set up an "encampment for Palestine" on the TCD campus.

Students also used benches to block access to the Book of Kells attraction.

TCD said it did not support the "unauthorised BDS encampment".

On Saturday afternoon, the university said access to its campus has been restricted to students and staff with valid college ID cards.

It said it had done so to ensure that "those protesting on campus are members of the college community".

Book of Kells attraction blocked by benches
Students have used benches to block the entrance to the Book of Kells [LÁSZLÓ MOLNÁRFI]

Last week, Mr Molnárfi said he believed the real reason why the students' union was being fined was because TCD authorities "are terrified of the wave" of anti-war protests across university campuses.

"Student movements in the US have been absolutely inspiring and we believe that we need to take further action," he added.

Police in the US have detained more than 2,000 people nationwide in the past fortnight at college rallies and protest camps.

Pro-Palestinian protesters have also disrupted US graduation ceremonies in recent days.

Demonstrators, who have been calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza war, are also demanding academic institutions financially divest from Israel and companies that stand to make money from the conflict.

Students have also occupied UK campuses in protest against the conflict in Gaza with pro-Palestinian protesters in cities including London, Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds setting up tents outside university buildings.

Israel began bombing Gaza after Hamas killed more than 1,400 people in Israel and kidnapped more than 200 others.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said more than 34,000 people had been killed in the Strip since 7 October.