College drop controversial €214k fine against students’ union

Disciplinary proceedings against union leaders have also been dropped in another win for the union

College has retracted a controversial €214k invoice issued to Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) earlier this month.

It has also dropped disciplinary proceedings against union leaders including President László Molnárfi and President-elect Jenny Maguire for their role in protests which disrupted access to the Book of Kells on five occasions.

In a post on X/Twitter, Molnárfi called the retraction of the fine “a win for the right to protest”.

In a statement to Trinity News, he called protest “a fundamental right”.

“If a loss of revenue coincided with peaceful protests as outlined by the College, none of which resulted in any arrests by An Garda Síochána, then such is a cost to the university of operating in a liberal democracy where peaceful protest is both lawful and encouraged.”

It is the latest in a series of wins for the union in a weeks-long battle with the College over various issues including the right to protest, a proposed increase to masters fees, and divestment from Israel.

Sharing that disciplinary action against her and others had been dropped, Maguire said: “Trinity cannot intimidate students from taking action against a college that doesn’t work for them.”

The invoice was issued seeking compensation for lost revenue due to “disruptive protests” organised by union leadership throughout the year.

The move received international coverage and was widely condemned. Trinity Senator Lynn Ruane said she was “deeply disappointed by the decision of the management of Trinity College Dublin to issue fines” in response to “peaceful and legitimate protests”.

TCDSU remained steadfast in its refusal to pay the fine invoiced to them from the outset. In an email to College’s Financial Services Division, Molnárfi noted that “only in a court of law” could the university seek to make the students’ union responsible for losses incurred by student protests.

He added that to do so would be a “bad use of the university’s resources, reputationally damaging, and according to our advice would most likely be unsuccessful”.

A proposal to increase fees for masters’ courses due to be considered by the Board has been dropped following a counter-proposal from TCDSU to instead increase revenue from tourism through an increase in Book

of Kells ticket prices.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe is a Junior Sophister student of History and Political Science. He is the current Social Media and Managing Editor of Trinity News, having previously served as News Editor, Assistant News Editor and copyeditor.