Trinity TV in Pornography Incident, Secretary Resigns

Ian Curran

News Editor

Trinity TV has been investigated by the Central Societies Committee (CSC) after a conflict over the improper usage of their society room in House Six over the summer. The investigation followed two complaints by DU Film Society, who have jurisdiction over the room which is shared with Trinity TV at their discretion.

The more serious complaint relates to an incident which occurred on the evening of 19 August when a society computer was used to access pornography and a used condom had been found in the room. The other complaint against the society was that the room had been left “in a mess”. The complaints were lodged officially on Sunday, 23 August.

All parties contacted by Trinity News– the CSC, the chairperson of Trinity TV and the individual in question – are agreed that the then-secretary of Trinity TV was logged into private Facebook and email accounts during the period that the pornographic material was accessed. A grant application for the Trinity TV society was also open. This information was provided by DU Film Society to the CSC, who in turn showed it to Trinity TV’s chairperson.

Further it was agreed that the individual, who is also the financial officer of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union, was the only member of the Trinity TV committee who had access to the room on the night itself and in the preceding period over the summer. The secretary has since resigned from the committee for “personal reasons” which he says relate to an “unworkable” relationship with the chairperson of DU Film Society.

A source from the committee of DU Film Society has told Trinity News that there is evidence of the secretary’s Facebook being logged-in “within minutes” of the pornographic content being accessed. However, this has not been corroborated by the other individuals questioned.

The chairperson of the society, Kate Finnegan, said that the room was left in the charge of the society’s secretary to “follow up on sponsorship” as the rest of the committee were “away”. She claimed that she was not aware that there was a problem with CSC until she returned to Dublin and was approached by the secretary.

Ms Finnegan told Trinity News that the secretary was reprimanded over the condition of the room several times during the summer and failed to alert the committee to the issue. Ms Finnegan told TN that the former secretary “told [her] that CSC didn’t want to talk to the society” when this was not the case and further accused him of “lying” about when the CSC had changed the locks on the room. Ms Finnegan says that the former secretary “… was making executive decisions” and that he had “… let the society down”.

Ms Finnegan said that the society itself had become a “scapegoat” for the secretary’s offences and issues with CSC. She says that “CSC were on our side the whole time” and that they had been “very supportive” of the society after they received the information from DU Film Society. Ms Finnegan described the former secretary as “treacherous” and said that she was no longer “happy to associate” herself with him.

In an interview with Trinity News this evening, the CSC chairperson, Cian McCarthy, said that the room “… is actually Film Society’s” and that ultimately “… [they] made the decision” as to whether or not Trinity TV should be allowed to remain in use of the room. Mr McCarthy stated that CSC considers the issue “resolved” and are no longer “… looking into what individual was responsible”. Mr McCarthy confirmed that the secretary had resigned as of this evening, stating that this was the reason why the CSC considered the matter closed.

Speaking this evening, the former Trinity TV secretary rejected the claims that he had accessed pornography while logged into the College network. He stated that on 19 August he had left himself logged into his Facebook and email accounts as well as the college network while he went to dinner. He said he “… regularly left the room with [himself] logged in.” The former secretary said that when he returned from dinner he found the door of the room open and heard “people talking” inside. He said that he did not go into the room either to see who was present or to log himself out because he assumed that his accounts would be treated “with respect”.

He reported that he was at dinner in the Crackbird restaurant on Dame Street from “6 or maybe 5pm”. Ms Finnegan stated that the “the pornography was accessed from 7.23 to 7.30”. He said he “had an inkling as to who it was” that accessed the pornography, but was unwilling to divulge a name.

In a further statement issued to Trinity News in the past hour, the former secretary said that he had resigned to ensure that Trinity TV continued to have access to the society room as he “… felt that the only way the chair [of DU Film Society] would agree to continue working with [Trinity TV] was if I was no longer around.” He said that the resignation was entirely of his own volition and that he had offered it because he felt “… a swift resolution was necessary.” He added that he was “disappointed” to no longer be involved with Trinity TV.

A source from DU Film Society has told Trinity News tonight that the only other individuals with access to the room at the time that the pornography was accessed were accounted for by their respective employers and that CSC were aware of this.

EDIT, 19:44: Trinity TV approached DU Publications during the period their chairperson Kate Finnegan described their situation as “in limbo”. They discussed the possibility of joining the publications body as a multimedia wing should they be expelled from the CSC. At the time of writing, with the CSC describing the issue as “resolved”, it was unclear where that dialogue stood.

The former secretary of Trinity TV has not been named in this article due to the sensitive nature of the allegations. Mr McCarthy and Ms Finnegan have been named, but this does not imply any wrong-doing on their part.

Additional reporting on the story by Rónán Burtenshaw

More coverage on this story will follow in the print edition of Trinity News, available next Tuesday.