There is no constitutional mechanism to impeach the Editor of the University Times (UT) the Electoral Commission (EC) has confirmed.
Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) has published a statement this evening clarifying the electoral rules around a potential impeachment of the UT Editor.
In a statement on Twitter this afternoon, Chair of the EC Emma Gallagher stated: “In a letter to the Editor of the University Times (UT) on Friday, members of staff of the University Times claimed that they have ‘begun impeachment proceedings’ against the Editor and suggested that this would result in a ‘college-wide referendum’.”
“There is no mechanism in the TCDSU Constitution to impeach the Editor of the University Times,” Gallagher explained. “The Editor is not a Sabbatical Officer of the Union and is not subject to the removal procedures outlined in section 6.2.1 of the Constitution.”
The statement added: “Additionally, UT is not a Union body, but an editorially independent newspaper with freedom of governance, which receives funding via TCDSU, as per Chapter 10 of the TCDSU Constitution.”
“As such, it would be inappropriate for the Union to have the power to remove the Editor and a violation of the paper’s independence,” the statement continued.
“It has also been claimed that a failure to produce a print edition of the University Times in the month of November would ‘result in the immediate defunding of [the] newspaper’,” Gallagher said. “There is no such constitutional mechanism.”
In the letter, which was leaked by a former UT staff member on their Twitter on Saturday afternoon, UT Senior Staff said that they have begun “impeachment proceedings” against the editor “which would likely involve the entire student body being asked to vote for [Noonan’s] dismissal”.
Current UT staff alleged that these proceedings “would also likely affect [their] capacity to fulfil [their] constitutional requirement to produce a print edition in November, which would result in the immediate defunding of [UT]”.
The EC statement added: “The University Times is mandated to publish one newspaper per month in each teaching term, and a breach of this constitutional requirement would be dealt with via the structures outlined in Chapter 5 and Chapter 10 subject to the discretion of the relevant TCDSU bodies.”
The statement also added that the EC “was not consulted on the constitutional status of the University Times Editor by members of the paper’s staff”, despite the paper’s staff claiming they had “begun impeachment proceedings” in a letter to UT Editor Ailbhe Noonan.