UCC students set up fourth Gaza solidarity encampment in Ireland

Protestors have said that “time for action is now and no later”.

Students at University College Cork (UCC) have established an encampment on the university’s campus demanding that it cut all ties with Israeli institutions amid its genocidal campaign in Gaza.

Tents have been set up on the quadrangle at the centre of the university’s campus, similar to the encampments at UCD and Trinity.

In a statement, the newly-established UCC Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) said that the encampment is a response to the “University’s unwillingness to meet the Students’ Union’s demands for full divestment from the ongoing genocide in Palestine.”

They said that while they welcome UCC’s promise to “divest their financial ties to Israeli companies”, the protestors “continue to demand full divestment from all financial ties to Israeli but also non-Israeli companies that are profiting from the occupation of Palestine.”

The statement demands that UCC “open the books of the Tyndall Institute to show what financial links and research project partnerships exist with Israeli academic institutions, Israeli state institutions and Israeli and non-Israeli companies that are profiting from the occupation of Palestine”.

The protestors further demand that support be given to Palestinian students to continue their studies in UCC. They also demand that UCC “commit to funding research by Palestianins both within UCC and internationally”.

The statement also condemns “the inaction of the Irish government”, and in particular its ties with “capitalist imperialism states” such as “America, [UK] and EU member states”. They stated that “Ireland has acted in lockstep with these states, which can be best seen in the continued use of Shannon airport as a de-facto US military base, enabling the flow of military aid to the Israeli occupation forces.”

Protestors are demanding that UCC release a standalone statement that addresses Israel’s historical destruction of Palestine, discusses the destruction of education institutions, and calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

The statement said that protestors “will not move until UCC demonstrates clear accordance with the demands”. It also states that “escalation will occur” should the demands not be met.

The statement concluded: “No more ‘business as usual’ for UCC in complicity with the Israeli state and Western Imperialism. The people of Rafah need our support right now.”

On May 9, UCC said in a statement that it will divest from the only Israeli company in which it held stakes, following engagement with the Students’ Union. The college will also undertake a review of all relationships with Israeli institutions including partnerships and research.

This followed a public letter issued by University College Cork Students’ Union (UCCSU) to their university president John O’Halloran calling on the college to end its silence on Gaza.

It is the fourth such encampment to be set up in Ireland, following Trinity, Queen’s University Belfast and UCD.

It joins a global movement of university encampments in solidarity with Gaza that have taken place around the world, beginning with Columbia University in the US.

On May 3 Trinity College Dublin students’ Union (TCDSU) and Trinity BDS established the first such encampment in Ireland, with University College Dublin (UCD) following suit on 11 May.

The full list of UCC protestors’ demands is as follows:

“That UCC immediately releases a standalone statement that includes the following;

○ Addresses Israel’s historical and systematic destruction as a settler colonial state of Palestinian culture, land, infrastructure and lives that has culminated in a genocide.

○ Focuses in particular on the deliberate destruction of educational institutions.

○ Demands an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

○ Calls for immediate unhindered access to aid.

○ Supports the right to return for all Palestinians to their homeland.

○ Demands meaningful material reparations for the Palestinian people.

○ Demands that all those within the Israeli State perpetrating genocide face trial.

That UCC takes the following action;

○ The Cccupied Territories bill – No government politicians, officials or parties to be welcomed on campus or within its schools, research centres institutes, and DACs physically or online, until the Occupied Territories Bill is passed.

○ Open the books and divest

■ Withdraw from the Horizon Europe project until Israeli institutions and corporations are fully excluded from this initiative.

■ Compile and release information on all private or university connections within the Tyndall National Institute, whether Israeli or otherwise, that are involved in Israeli occupation or settlement or the justification and normalisation thereof.

■ Compile and release information on all companies involved in the research, development or manufacture of military equipment including so-called dual-use goods.

■ Exclude all arms companies such as Collins Aerospace from recruiting from, and from operating within the university.

■ Immediately set up a funded committee which includes a member of UCC BDS, a member of the UCCSU Anti-Imperialist Committee, and a member of staff of our choosing that reviews university ties such as those detailed above, that are involved in perpetrating or profiting from war with the explicit aim of ending these ties as soon as possible.

■ Either drop associations with Club Travel or investigate and demand an end to the outsourcing that this company does with Israeli companies, and assess any other links to Israeli companies.

■ Adopt BDS standards as university-wide policy, with nothing short of full divestment from Israeli companies and companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine.

○ Support for Palestinians

■ Offer university support to Palestinian students academics to continue study and research here. Recognising that state funding for education has become hollowed-out and reliant on corporations that will sacrifice human life in the interest of maximising profit, we demand that UCC advocate for state support in this capacity as well. We want a commitment that provides the number of ongoing individuals it will support and the monetary value of this support.

■ Commit to funding research by Palestinians both within UCC and internationally, as well as research on Palestine both now and in the future.

■ In the intention of righting the wrongdoings of UCC’s refusal to divest from institutions profiting from, and aiding in Israeli settlement and occupation, we demand that an adequately funded working group be set up for the facilitating of aforementioned points.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated this is the third encampment in Ireland, rather than the fourth. Trinity News apologises for this error.

Kate Byrne

Kate Byrne is the Deputy Comment Editor at Trinity News and is currently in her Junior Sophister Year studying History and Political Science.