The University Times (UT) editor will not resign following a letter calling for her resignation, a statement to Trinity News this afternoon has confirmed.
On Saturday, a tweet from a former staff member of UT was published, which contained screenshots of a letter from current UT staff members calling for the resignation of their editor.
UT Editor Ailbhe Noonan spoke to Trinity News this morning about allegations laid out in the letter.
Speaking to Trinity News, Noonan said: “Now that I have mostly recovered from quite a difficult period of illness, I wish to give a formal statement about the letter calling for my resignation.”
“The letter calling for my resignation contains many points that are at their core valid, and I believe they deserve to be dealt with properly,” Noonan explained. “As written in the letter, however, they have been generally misrepresented to the point of deception. I will address them in turn.”
The letter was publicly shared by former UT News Editor Jody Druce on his Twitter with the caption: “Staff of @universitytimes have sent the following letter to editor Ailbhe Noonan calling for her resignation.”
Members of UT staff sent a letter calling for Noonan to resign on Friday evening.
In her statement to Trinity News, Noonan continued: “In response to the claims that I was late to several meetings, including missing some: this is true. I was contacted by my senior team with regards to this and the negative impact it was having, and immediately took that advice onboard.”
“I changed around my schedule and reorganised to make sure that it would not continue – and it did not,” Noonan explained. “The letter refused to mention my response to this and the actions I took to remedy it.”
In the letter which was leaked on Twitter on Saturday, staff members allege that Noonan’s editorship was “untenable”, and Noonan was late to multiple meetings, or missed them entirely.
The letter stated that Noonan did not have an adequate plan for their print run, and it was significantly stressful to staff involved. The letter also claims that Noonan left staff members in their office during their most recent print weekend, and did not return until the afternoon the next day.
Speaking to Trinity News about this, Noonan said: “As regards the lack of contact with various section editors during print weekend: once again, going into print weekend was less organised than it should have been, and I should have had a better plan in place.”
“As soon as the issue was raised, I contacted the senior team to acknowledge the criticisms, draft a plan together, and to plan a meeting to help things go forwards more smoothly following print,” Noonan continued. “None of the team contacted me in any meaningful manner with regards to the immediate plans put in place, or with regards to a meeting to address the issues after print weekend. Both statements were ignored.”
Noonan added: “The letter also mentions that I left on the Friday of last print weekend. This is true, and in hindsight is not something I should have done.”
“I was under the impression, however, from my communications with staff that they would not be working heavily during that time, and I told them that any slack that remained I could pick up the following day,” Noonan explained. “I genuinely did not think or expect that they would spend all that night working, and in communications it honestly seemed to me they just wanted the office as a space to work for an hour or two.”
“If I had known they intended to stay that long, I would have asked them to get the rest they needed.”
The letter in question also alleged that Noonan had been “lying” to staff, using an example of sending test files to their printer, alongside the paper itself.
Responding to this, Noonan said: “As regards to accusations that I lied: this is simply and wholly untrue. I will repeat that I was never given a formal handover document or any meaningful help in assuming the role, despite a clear requirement in the TCDSU Constitution that this be given to me by the former Editor.”
Speaking to Trinity News with regards to this, the former UT Editor Emer Moreau said: “I had two meetings with Ailbhe to teach her various aspects of the job, including publishing articles online, using InDesign to produce the print paper and general advice on sourcing and writing stories.”
“I communicated with her regularly in the weeks leading up to the changeover and conducted staff interviews with her,” Moreau explained. “I offered at least twice to answer any questions she had. She did not take up these offers.”
Moreau concluded: “The incoming editor does not typically receive a handover document. I did not receive one.”
“This increased the difficulty of the learning curve because I spent a lot of time re-learning institutional knowledge rather than putting my ideas into practice,” Noonan continued. “I have done the best with what I have been given, and I will admit that my methods and decisions have not been perfect. However, this is a continuous process and one that I am focusing heavily on.”
Staff also highlighted concerns about the print issue itself, given edits that were made to the paper.
“Regarding the edits in photo dimensions: this required changes to layout, but the manner and degree of work required to bring those about is heavily over-represented,” Noonan responded. “I also took responsibility for most of that myself, and several staff members helped significantly as well.”
Noonan has disputed that these concerns were communicated to her the way the letter depicts.
“These concerns were not communicated to me the way the letter claims,” Noonan said to Trinity News. “When I received complaints, I always responded with solutions that I immediately implemented to the best of my ability.”
“I also offered to meet and discuss potential solutions multiple times before, during, and after the cited print weekend.”
Noonan continued: “The severity of the issues claimed in the letter was never once mentioned to me, and each time I talked with senior masthead I left with the understanding that the major issues they brought forward were addressed and resolved as needed.”
“After this conflict began, I made two offers of mediation with a neutral mediator, which were both categorically rejected,” Noonan explained. “This team has rejected mediation and ignored offers for meetings intended explicitly to openly discuss and address these issues.”
Noonan continued: “I was from the very start extremely open to all staff that they could bring issues to me, be entirely open and honest with me, and challenge me. But to do that I need clear and open communication, something I was never given.”
Noonan has criticised her staff for sending “repeated calls and texts” while she has been ill over the last few days: “Over the last few days I have been very sick, and I communicated this to the senior masthead team. Not once did they offer to give me space to recover. They sent repeated calls and texts that constantly prevented me from having the space I needed to rest and recover.”
Noonan continues to claim that the letter published by Druce “is being used by the senior masthead team as a personal assault on me, and that it is intended to harm my name with mis-represented statements and at best incomplete truth”.
Trinity News has contacted Druce for a statement.
She concludes: “I will not resign now. I will continue to fight for this paper with integrity and welfare as my top priorities, as I was elected to do in April.”
In the letter leaked on Saturday, UT staff highlighted numerous concerns about the editor’s alleged conduct in her role, including time management, use of resources available and “undue stress and anxiety” being caused.
Trinity News has contacted UT senior staff for a statement following Noonan’s response to their letter calling for her resignation.
Staff also said 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 allege 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]”.
It is unclear how impeachment proceedings of the UT Editor would occur.
In the constitution of Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) it details that a “Sabbatical Officer shall be removed from office by the passing of a resolution by referendum
to impeach that officer”.
The UT Editor is a sabbatical officer and has its own section of the constitution. Within that section it does not detail an impeachment process specific to the Editor. The constitution states that: “The election for the position of The University Times editor shall be coordinated by the Electoral Commission alongside the annual sabbatical officer elections.”
The constitution also states that “the election for the position of The University Times shall be subject to election regulations as set out in Schedule 3”. Schedule 3 contains the election rules covering all TCDSU elections and referenda, as specified in the document.
Trinity News has contacted the Electoral Commission (EC) for clarification.
Additional reporting by Ellen Kenny.
This article was updated at 5:05pm to include a statement from former UT Editor Emer Moreau.