UT Race: Peter Caddle believes that his “influence could be a very good course correction for the University Times”

Caddle has said he would use the money from cutting the print edition to improve the paper’s website and the rest he will “probably just hand back to the union”

Peter Caddle, one of two candidates for the editorship of the University Times (UT), says his reasons for running are “very simple”; he thinks he is “the best person for the job”. However, having no experience in the paper, he also admits that he will have to make up for the “shortcomings of his experience” and that his involvement “in the student alt-media, not student mainstream media” would be a “transition”. However, Caddle believes that his “influence could be a very good course correction for the University Times”.

His manifesto proclaims that it’s “time to dump paper”, which is his only promise – to eliminate the newspaper’s print issues. He believes that it is “quite obvious” that print is dying by looking at the “numbers”. Caddle elaborated on this by describing the Burkean – the right-wing website which Caddle is Chief Operating Manager of – as a successful online publication and labelling the UT’s growth online as “pretty stagnant”. He also claims that The Burkean has “far more views and followers” on their social media “in the same period of time as the UT.”

If the University Times ceased to print physical issues, the money that is used to fund them would, of course, need to go somewhere else. “I’d focus first on ‘ok how can we improve our digital sphere’, how can we improve the website because I find – and I don’t think I’m the only one – that it’s a bit wanting in places,” Caddle said. “I think after we figured out exactly where this money needs to go and what we need, the rest of that money I’ll probably just hand back to the union.”

When probed on how many readers he Burkean has, Caddle answered that he “wouldn’t be too familiar with recent statistics” but estimated “about 40-50,000” readers for the whole website during a “very bad month”. In comparison, the last statistic Caddle saw for UT was “a million unique readers over the past year”, adding that he wouldn’t have access to their most recent statistics. This answer holds a common thread throughout the interview on questions of what budget Caddle proposes for the paper.

Caddle has made much of having one campaign promise and an ironclad pledge to fulfill it. However, during the Media hustings it was put to him that producing an issue of the paper once a month during term time is a requirement under the TCDSU constitution. Caddle responded that as he understood it the constitution “doesn’t say what format” the edition should be published in. He noted that if bound to print a physical edition “we can just print two or three issues”.

Describing his experience with social media, Caddle said that he was “perfectly good at the job”, adding that he is “also perfectly good at delegating because there are some people that are better on certain social medias”. Asking if he knew about UT’s social media strategies, Caddle answered again that he did not have access to that kind of information but that “this is something [he] needs to do when [he] gets in”.

Discussing his one-point manifesto, Caddle says that this was “very intentional”, noting that the “University Times Editor is a busy job” and previous editors didn’t “have time to fulfil” the promises they had made during their campaigns. When asked if he had any other plans that aren’t mentioned in his manifesto, he answered that he had “commitments” but no plans. Caddle elaborated saying he “need[s] to get in there … to see what the issues are” and that “you need both an outsider’s perspective and insider’s perspective to actually properly enact change.”

In his interview, Caddle returned several times to a series of articles published by the Burkean which it dubbed the “Irish antifa project” in citing past experience. In the articles, the Burkean published transcripts of phone calls between their writers and student representatives or society members. During the phone calls, the Burkean writers pretended to be anti-fascism campaigners and asked their subjects to pass on the personal information of right-wing students. 

The Burkean is not a member of the Press Council of Ireland, which sets out a code of practice for journalists, but the University Times is. Trinity News asked Caddle how he could ensure impartiality and trustworthy articles if he was UT’s editor. Caddle responded that he would “need to work quite a lot with those who are already within the UT.” He added that he’ll need to “adjust” because he’s an “outsider” and that “one of the best elements of the paper is commitment to truth and commitment to impartiality”, concluding that he has “no intention of changing that element of the paper at all.”

UT has previously condemned The Burkean in its editorial pages as “a publication with almost no credibility”. When this was put to Caddle, he responded that “we’ve proved otherwise … the Irish antifa project proved otherwise … [UT] reported it proves otherwise” continuing that he believes “the Burkean has proven itself to have value, and to have value to students.” He added that the comment by UT is “water under the bridge for [him] in many ways.”

Caddle has previously written that “The Left has become the home of many educated women looking to help all those in need, whether it is feasible to do so or not, while Ireland’s emerging Right-wing has attracted almost exclusively men.” Asked if he himself identified with that statement, Caddle said “no, it’s an empirical statement,” adding that the article was about a “crisis of conscience”. He said that he attended Nigel Farage’s talk in Trinity, explaining that it was almost all men, but at a Mary Robinson talk, it was the opposite. He thinks there’s “a generational divide in this country” and “a divide along gender lines” which he thinks is “quite scary”.

During the Media hustings, the current editor of the University Times Cormac Watson passed on to Caddle a question from a current woman on the paper’s staff who said that she would be uncomfortable working in the paper under his editorship. Watson quoted passages from Caddle’s articles. stating: “You have described one of Versatile’s songs as “faker than the tans you’ll find on most inner-city girls”. You also stated that the inclusion of a gay disadvantaged black female character in Doctor Who made you “sure the season was going to be a progressive dumpster fire.” In a guide to freshers’ week you also ridiculed members of the LGBTQ+ community and described some non-binary people as “horrid creatures” who should be avoided.” Caddle responded by saying that many of these articles had a “comedic slant” and he argued that these quotes were not “an honest representation” of his work.

Caddle, despite the content of his articles, has repeatedly denied characterisations of his politics as far-right during the campaign. He said he would call himself a “chaotic centrist”, explaining that he’s “right on some issues … left on” others.  On his writing, he says that it is “perfectly compatible with a centrist’s point of view,” “pro-people” and  “looking at their points of view”. Caddle’s campaign manager ran in a women’s race in Trinity to try and prove a point that trans women should not compete in sport. When asked about his thoughts on this, Caddle replied: “He felt that it was effective at making a point. If he did so, that’s his business. I’ve no other opinion other than that.”

When asked if he had any preference between the candidates for the role of Provost, Caddle replied that he had “no favourite candidate whatsoever.” Trinity News asked if Caddle thought any candidates were best suited to the role to which he answered he had “no view on that” adding that he was focusing on his race, “not another race that’s going on”. 

When asked if he’s running to prove a political point, Caddle said no. What does he think his odds are of winning? Caddle said that it is “entirely on the students to decide”, adding that he believes his “odds would be phenomenal” if every undergraduate in college were polled.

Dearbháil Kent

Dearbháil Kent is the Comment Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of Latin.