TCDSU passes motion to hold referendum on boycotting the Irish Times

The motion was proposed by TCDSU’s LGBT+ Rights Officer Jenny Maguire at this evening’s Council

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) is to hold a referendum on adopting a long term policy of boycotting the Irish Times.

TCDSU’s LGBT+ Rights Officer Jenny Maguire proposed the motion to the union’s Council this evening, which was seconded by Sierra Mueller-Owens, TCDSU’s Welfare and Equality Officer. After a brief discussion, it passed with 88% of representatives voting in favour.

Speaking at the meeting this evening, Maguire said: “The Irish times has recently been platforming an anti-trans ethos, rife with scaremongering and medical misinformation surrounding transgender people.”

She continued: “It is a must that we join [Trans Writers Union] in this boycott”.

Both the SU’s Gender Equality Officer, Rebecca Kelly, and Disability Officer, Chloe Staunton, urged everyone at Council “to vote in favour of this motion’’. Staunton highlighted the union’s “T-fund” supporting trans students in socially transitioning and said College “is not a welcoming place if we’re still supporting the Irish Times”.

Yannick Gloster, Undergraduate Studies Committee Representative, stated at Council that the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland (TENI) and ShoutOut are “not in support” of the boycott from the Irish Times and asked Maguire if she had “consulted with University Times” since the newspaper uses their printers.

Maguire said that she had not heard any indication anywhere that the two LGBT+ organisations mentioned by Gloster are actively against the boycott, and that she had “numerous discussions” with the University Times when writing the motion.

Gabrielle Fullam then concurred with Maguire, saying she believes that the motion is ‘’really important” and that the SU “have to look at our prioritisation of issues”, and that she believes taking a stance on the issue was more important than “the convenience of printing with the Irish Times”.

The wording of the proposal, if passed at referendum, would mandate that “TCDSU boycott The Irish Times in all TCDSU shops, trade, business and other commercial Union operations”. 

This would include refusing to stock or sell the newspaper in TCDSU shops, and refusing advertising and printing services from the Irish Times. 

TCDSU Sabbatical Officers would also be required to decline media requests from the Irish Times. 

Speaking to Trinity News before the meeting, Maguire said: “Essentially, I’m proposing this motion as we simply cannot advertise for, stock or do business of any kind with a group that platforms medical misinformation, scaremongering and hate for transgender people on a national level.”

She continued: “There has been minimal media coverage of the Irish Trans Writers’ Union’s boycott of the Irish Times, and it is a must that we stand in solidarity with them.”

“Supporting the transgender community is non-negotiable, we cannot prioritise partnerships of any kind over the well-being of some of the most vulnerable people within Irish society, it’s as simple as that.” 

According to Maguire’s motion, “an anti-transgender editorial stance does not serve in the interest of debate or journalistic balance, but only seeks to prevent trans people from living lives free of persecution”.

Last night (October 18), University College Dublin Students’ Union voted at their union’s council to join the boycott from the Irish Times, started by the Trans Writers’ Union. UCDSU is now prohibited from sharing articles of the Irish Times after a majority voted to divest.

Last week, the University Times, which is affiliated with TCDSU and printed by the Irish Times, said that it was “aware” of calls for boycotts of the national newspaper. UT’s editorial team said that the publication would no longer feature advertisements from the Irish Times and was “actively exploring alternative arrangements” regarding printing.

Trinity News has taken an editorial stance in support of the Trans Writers’ Union campaign and severed its relationship with the Irish Times in August. The print edition of this newspaper is no longer produced by the Irish Times, and Trinity News no longer features its advertising in print or online.

Additional reporting by Kate Henshaw, Jamie Cox, Sarah Emerson and Jack Kennedy.

This article was amended at 10:40pm to add the margin by which the vote passed.

Bella Salerno

Bella Salerno is currently a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Fresh Middle Eastern, Jewish and Islamic Civilisations and French student.