Students at University College Dublin (UCD) are launching a campaign to boycott the catering company Aramark on February 7. The students are lobbying for UCD to end ties with the business, who caters for three direct provision centers across Ireland.
A representative for the lobby group spoke to Trinity News. “We’re protesting because we don’t believe a company such as Aramark that has profited from the incarceration of vulnerable people in direct provision should be making money from UCD students.”
The representative continued by saying: “In 2016 the Irish government gave Aramark €5.2 million for services in three direct provision centres across the country. These three centres are Knockalisheen in Co. Limerick, Lissywollen in Co. Meath and Kinsale Road in Co. Cork. Residents of these centres have raised serious concerns over the spending of this money. In 2014 there was a hunger strike in Lissywollen accommodation centre in Athlone protesting poor hygiene, small portion sizes and unacceptable living standards. Following this in 2015 a man in the Knockalisheen centre was hospitalised due to poor food quality.”
“UCD must listen to the concerns of those who have suffered at the hands of Aramark’s poor treatment of those in direct provision and their contract must be terminated.”
The campaign will be launched in the Red Room in the UCD Student Center. Aramark currently run the food services Chopped, Subway, the Main Canteen, and the Sutherland Cafe on UCD campus.
The campaign follows a similar lobby group in Trinity which launched in November 2017. Aramark currently run the Westland East outlet in the Hamilton. The Aramark Off Our Campus group aim for College to secure a contract with an alternative supplier with no connections to direct provision. Aramark’s current contract with Trinity terminates in 2019, with an option to extend to 2021.
Trinity’s Aramark Off Our Campus group are to protest weekly outside Westland Eats from 12pm to 2pm on Wednesdays. Following their first demonstration last week, an Aramark representative spoke to Trinity News via email. “Aramark 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.”
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) is mandated to lobby College to prevent an extension of the contract following a vote in 2014 by the union to oppose direct provision.