Trinity Publications passes a vote of no confidence in Chair

Former Secretary Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh was elected Chair

Clare McCarthy has been removed as Chair of Trinity Publications following a unanimous vote of no confidence by the Publications committee yesterday evening. There was one abstention and ten votes in favour.

The motion of no confidence in McCarthy was proposed by Trinity Publications Public Relations Officer (PRO) Emma McCarthy, Alumni Officer Rory O’Sullivan, Amenities Officer Niamh Lynch and, former Secretary and now Chair, Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh.  

Trinity News has learned that the vote for removal of the chair was the escalation of an internal conflict in Trinity Publications, which began in early November. The allocation of funding by Publications to SUAS Magazine was suspended on a temporary basis by McCarthy and Publications Treasurer Carla King-Molina. The latter decision was taken by McCarthy and King-Molina on the basis of allegations that SUAS Magazine had not met its financial obligations during the previous academic year, when the publication was known as STAND.

The committee of Trinity Publications earlier this month agreed that SUAS’ accounts were in order and awarded a grant to the magazine for the forthcoming year. Despite this decision, King-Molina investigated the matters surrounding SUAS Magazine’s accounts. In an e-mail to Niamh Lynch, the current Editor of SUAS Magazine and Trinity Publications Amenities Officer, King-Molina stated that she and Clare McCarthy could not “in good faith promise funding until a plan has been made to pay for last year’s issues”. A second email was sent by McCarthy to inform SUAS Magazine that they would not receive funding until these financial discrepancies were resolved.

A formal complaint was made to Trinity Publications by the Chair of SUAS, Clio Chatterson Dickson, and Lynch. The complaint stated that SUAS had been falsely accused of being in debt and having discrepancies in its accounts.

A separate investigation into the matter by Trinity Publication’s former secretary, Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh, found that there was no basis for the allegations of financial impropriety on the part of SUAS. There was no debt or financial irregularities in SUAS’s accounts at the time of the Publication grant meeting.

An emergency meeting was held by the Chair, Treasurer, Alumni and PRO officers to discuss how to handle the SUAS complaint. Minutes from this meeting were seen by Trinity News. It was agreed that an email would be drafted by the Alumni Officer Rory O’Sullivan and would be sent to SUAS to explain and apologise for the temporary suspension of the grant.

In an e-mail sent to O’Sullivan by McCarthy, she commented that the draft reply to SUAS was “extremely damaging” to her and that she had sought legal advice. She continued: “I must ask you not to circulate or publish the document and should you do so I will be forced to take appropriate action.”

Following receipt of this communication, O’Sullivan gave notice of his resignation as Alumni Officer on the grounds that he considered her threat of “appropriate action” was a threat of legal action against him and that it would be “impossible” to continue any working relationship with McCarthy. However McCarthy clarified in a response email to O’Sullivan that ” ‘appropriate action’ should not be equated with legal action”. 

Following this, the motion of no confidence was brought. An election for Chair took place subsequently with Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh elected unanimously.

Trinity Publications released a statement on November 23 and stated that “6 executive members and 7 editors of fully-recognised publications – unanimously voted in favour of a no-confidence motion against the Chair” . The statement also includes that the vote was tabled ” after the Chair made a threat of legal action against a member of the committee”.

Trinity Publications is one of the five capitated bodies in College. It funds and promotes seven student run publications, including  Trinity News. Publications is allocated funding from the capitations grant which is funded through student fees.

McCarthy had not commented at the time of publication. 

Additional reporting by Ciaran Sunderland.

This article was updated on November 24 to include Trinity Publications’s statement.