College: Book of Kells protest “counterproductive”

Student demonstrators have prevented tourists from accessing the Book of Kells since 9 am today

College has called the student demonstration held outside the Old Library today “counterproductive”.

Student demonstrators blocked the entrance of the Book of Kells exhibition from 9am today in protest against the 2% fee increase in College accommodation, the maximum legal limit in the Dublin rent pressure zone.

In a statement to Trinity News, College said: “Students have every right to protest peacefully and we are always willing to listen to their views and engage in dialogue. However, blocking the entrance to the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin, which holds the Book of Kells, is counter-productive.

Income from the Book of Kells exhibition is vital for running the university and for providing services to students. Actions like today’s blockade only worsen the situation for everyone”, they added. 

College also said that the 2% rent increase is part of a three-year plan which is set to expire this year, and will be subject to review. 

They also said that utility charges for students have not been increased, despite “significant inflation pressure”. 

They also offered apologies to those who had pre-booked tickets to see the Book of Kells today and said that full refunds will be awarded. 

People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barret, who attended the protest today, told Trinity News “it is nonsensical when students are already under massive pressure from the cost of living and housing crisis, the costs of rents, the cost of food, the cost of public transport, of sustaining themselves through third level education, to impose further rent hikes on them on top of successive rent hikes”.

“We need more people accessing third level education, getting qualified, we’ve got huge skill shortages in the country,” he said. “So why on earth would College think it was a good idea, or the government to allow them, to make it more default to access third level education?”

He praised the demonstrators “showing what needs to be done”. He added that the government should be ensuring that every student “has the basic right to secure affordable housing”. 

Labour Spokesperson For Further And Higher Education Annie Hoey also said Labour “stands in solidarity” with the protestors.

“Students are not immune from the housing crisis, and universities are not immune from the few regulations in place to protect those on the coal face of the crisis,” she said.

“Students, like all renters, deserve certainty of tenancy and affordability. Students should not have to picket outside one of Ireland’s most iconic tourist destinations, the Book of Kells, to highlight this with the institution.

“Annual increases in student accommodation in Trinity and other institutions has been well documented, but in the context of the brutal housing market, something must be done to protect student accommodation.”

Earlier today, Dean of Students Dr Richie Porter told Trinity News protestors can negotiate with College to freeze rents.

“If they want a freeze in the next few years, we have many forums to discuss that – I am Chair of the Student Life Committee,” he said.

“[But] they’re giving me nothing, so I’m going to do nothing until they give me something – then I will negotiate and I will bring the top delegates along with me.”

Charlotte Kent

Charlotte Kent is the Co-News Editor at Trinity News and a Senior Freshman PPES Student.