Trinity protest camp to end after agreement made

Students at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) have announced the end of a pro-Palestinian encampment after what they described as an "historic" agreement with the university.

About 100 students set up an encampment inside the university grounds on Friday, demanding an end to college business and academic links with Israel because of the war in Gaza.

A TCD spokesperson said an agreement had been reached on Wednesday.

TCD said that the university "will complete a divestment from investments in Israeli companies that have activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and appear on the UN blacklist in this regard".

The protest led to restricted access to Trinity and members of the public, including international tourists, were unable to visit the renowned Book of Kells.

The group also flew Palestinian flags from front windows of the college and occasionally addressed the public through an upstairs window, using a megaphone.

TCD student agreement
The students and the university reached an agreement on Wednesday [László Molnárfi]

'We abhor and condemn all violence and war'

Senior Dean Prof Eoin O Sullivan, who led the talks for Trinity, said: “We are glad that this agreement has been reached and are committed to further constructive engagement on the issues raised.

"We thank the students for their engagement.”

In a statement, the college said it fully understood "the driving force behind the encampment".

"We abhor and condemn all violence and war, including the atrocities of October 7th, the taking of hostages and the continuing ferocious and disproportionate onslaught in Gaza," a college spokesperson said.

What has Trinity College Dublin agreed?

The university has made several commitments:

  • By June of this year, TCD will "complete a divestment from investments in Israeli companies that have activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and appear on the UN Blacklist"

  • The university "will endeavour" to divest from investments in other Israeli companies with consideration from a student and staff taskforce

  • The taskforce will also review Trinity’s student exchanges with Israel

On review, the university confirmed that its supplier list currently contains just one Israeli company, which will remain until March 2025 for contractual reasons.

Further measures will include:

  • The Vice-President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion will work with students to tackle concerns that have been expressed regarding all forms of racism

  • The Chair of the Trinity Legacies Review Working Group has agreed to receive a late submission in relation to renaming The X Library

Why were 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 said the student body intended to "escalate" its campaign.

On Friday night students set up an "encampment for Palestine" on the TCD campus and blocked access to the Book of Kells attraction.

Access to the TCD campus was then restricted to students and staff with valid college ID cards.

On Monday, the university met student protesters and outlined a range of measures - these included a commitment to divest from investments in companies that have appeared on a UN Blacklist.

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.

Protesters called Monday's developments "a partial victory" but said they intended to continue their encampment until TCD divested from all Israeli companies and suppliers.

Book of Kells benches blocking entrance
Protesters had blocked the Book of Kells tourist attraction [PA]

Elsewhere, police in the US have detained more than 2,000 people nationwide in recent weeks at college rallies and protest camps.

Students have also occupied UK campuses protest camps against the war in Gaza.

So-called "liberated zones" were set up at Oxford's Museum of Natural

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

More than 33,000 people have been killed in Israel's offensive in Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry there says.