32 members of UT staff sign letter calling for editor’s resignation

Staff members have begun impeachment proceedings against their editor, which will be carried out should she choose not to resign

This afternoon, a tweet from a former staff member of the University Times (UT) staff was published, showing a letter from UT staff members calling for the resignation of their editor. 

Members sent a letter calling for the editor, Ailbhe Noonan, to resign yesterday evening.

In the letter, staff stated that they believe the editor’s leadership of the paper is “untenable”. They also stated that her “refusal to submit [her] resignation is negatively and dramatically affecting the welfare of the staff, and the quality of [their] output”.

They highlighted numerous concerns about the editor’s alleged conduct in her role: “We believe that you are not managing your time effectively. This includes but is not limited to, showing up twenty minutes to half an hour late to most meetings, or not attending them at all.” 

UT staff members have threatened Editor Ailbhe Noonan with impeachment proceedings should she choose not to resign.

The letter continued: “When the rest of the staff are effectively balancing the meetings alongside their academic commitments, their part-time jobs, and their social and family lives, it is an insult that a full-time, paid sabbatical officer cannot fulfil the same obligations.”

The letter was publicly shared this afternoon 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.” 

The letter alleges that the editor is “not making adequate use of the resources available to [her]”. Highlighting an alleged incident during print weekend last week when Noonan allegedly did not contact the Magazine Editor, Radius Editor or Creative Designer “with any sort of schedule or plan for the weekend”. 

“All of this organising was done by your deputy editor and your two assistant editors,” the letter explained. 

Staff members are alleging that the editor has neglected to fill staff positions in the paper: “Many applications have been unprocessed for weeks, leaving staff members struggling without assistance and important positions left unfilled.”

They also allege that the editor has been “lying” to staff: “For example we have correspondence from WebPrint that proves that you lied to both senior staff and the whole staff about sending both test files and the actual paper to print.”

In their letter, UT staff members highlighted their “frustrations” with Noonan, which “came to a head last weekend” when she allegedly “left the office at 3pm on Friday of print weekend and did not return until the afternoon of the following day”. 

“When you abandoned your responsibilities and forced the rest of the senior masthead team and the Radius editor to assume your workload, we spent a cumulative total of approximately 150 hours in the office attempting to produce the paper,” the letter continued. 

They claim that the editor “informed staff on Sunday evening, the day before the paper was due to be printed, about changes in dimensions and requirements for publishing photos that forced us to essentially begin the layout again”. Staff members are alleging that Noonan was “aware of these requirements for weeks before [she] informed [staff members] of them”.

Staff members have also claimed that they have voiced frustrations to the editor: “As far back as September, members of the copy team communicated their frustrations to you.” 

“The first news editor resigned due to his unhappiness with your leadership and the lies you told him,” the letter continued. “After a conversation with the deputy news editor, the rest of the senior masthead team expressed their concerns and frustrations, and little to not attempt to made to rectify them.”

Staff members highlighted that “undue stress and anxiety” has allegedly been caused to staff: “Members of the staff, senior and junior, have made huge personal, academic and professional sacrifices to keep this paper running in your frequent absence, and this has taken a significant toll on their mental health and collective morale.”

The letter also mentions Trinity News, which informs Noonan that Trinity News has contacted UT staff members in relation to calls for her resignation. 

Staff have 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”. 

Should these proceedings go ahead, they allege that “it 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 if this falls under the Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) constitution.

In the TCDSU constitution, it states that: “A Sabbatical Officer shall be removed from office by the passing of a resolution by referendum to impeach that officer.” Under the UT section of the constitution it states that “the election for the position of The University Times editor shall be co-ordinated by the Electoral Commission alongside the annual sabbatical officer elections”. The election for the UT Editor follows rules set out in Schedule 3.

Also in the letter to Noonan last night, staff have highlighted they believe “these issues are past the point of mediation” alleging that “for the past two months, [they] have given [Noonan] ample opportunity to address and remedy [their] concerns and [Noonan] refused the opportunity to do so”. 

The letter concludes by saying: “We ask that you spare yourself and the staff the trauma of undergoing a college-wide referendum, and that you accept our calls for your resignation so we can proceed with a peaceful handover and the progression of the paper.”

Trinity News has contacted Noonan for a statement. 

In a statement to Trinity News this afternoon, UT Senior Staff said: “Regarding the letter sent to the editor of The University Times, I can confirm that, as of time of writing, 32 members of UT staff have put their names to the letter.”

“There are technically 49 members of staff (including the editor) on the UT slack,” the statement continued. “However, 6 members of staff joined the slack in the past two weeks or so.” 

Additional reporting by Shannon Connolly. 

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is current Editor-in-Chief of Trinity News, and a graduate of Sociology and Social Policy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.