The catering company Aramark, who previously operated cafes in Trinity’s Hamilton building, have chosen to terminate their contract with College. The contract which Aramark had with Trinity was set to expire in 2019 but had the option to be extended until 2021.
Speaking to Trinity News, Moira O’Brien, Trinity’s head of catering said that Aramark and Trinity decided to end the contract in December “by mutual agreement”.
During their time on campus, the Aramark operated cafes were subject to protest and boycott from the Aramark Off Our Campus group, who objected to the company’s involvement in catering for three direct provision centres in Cork, Clare and Westmeath.
The group held a series of demonstrations in 2018 outside the Hamilton cafes, holding signs that read “Aramark Profits From Human Suffering” and “Westland Eats Funds Refugee Imprisonment”.
In 2016, Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) released a report stating that Aramark was paid €5.2 million for its services by the Irish state in the direct provision system. Previously, up to 2010, Aramark received €16 million from the state.
The United Nations Refugee Agency has repeatedly called for urgent reform of Ireland’s system of processing asylum seekers, and has been condemned by many as an inhumane and cruel process. In 2015 residents carried out a brief hunger strike in the Aramark run centre in Knockalisheen Co. Limerick, after some were hospitalised as a result of poorly produced food. A year earlier a hunger strike occurred in the Lissywollen Accommodation centre in Athlone Co. Meath, also run by Aramark, due to small portion sizes, poor hygiene, and living standards.
In a statement to Trinity News at the time of the demonstrations, Aramark said the company “respects the right to protest but regrets that a very small number of students have chosen to demonstrate outside Westland Eats on Trinity College campus as part of a larger protest against direct provision. Direct provision is government policy and Aramark has no influence in this regard.”
Both the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) hold policies of boycotting the company, as well as several other student unions across Ireland.
Aramark did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publishing.