UCCSU threaten action in response to university’s silence on Palestine

The union says it was inspired by TCDSU and TCD BDS’s encampment

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

“We are writing to you today on behalf of the students of our University, in relation to our ongoing efforts to get UCC to take action on the ongoing genocide being faced by the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel”. 

“The actions by the State of Israel have left the Palestinian people in a state of poverty, terror and fatal vulnerability”.

UCCSU continued that they have tried to engage with the university and “call attention to this issue a number of times” through the use of “direct actions including rallies and a student walkout”.

The union has also met with the university’s administration and “have urged UCC to join the Academic Boycott in line with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement”.

“We saw over 400 UCC staff and 1,000 students and alumni sign a letter demanding the university take action”, the letter continued. 

“At every interval, we have detailed these actions at each meeting of the UCC Governing Authority”, they continued. 

“Unfortunately, all of our actions to date have been met with silence or excuses citing the wish of the University to remain ‘politically neutral’.”

The letter demands that University College Cork (UCC) to “Issue a statement condemning Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians”.

It also requests that the university “Identify and assess any actual or potential adverse impacts on human rights with which they might be involved either through their own activities or as a result of their partnerships with other universities, higher education institutions, or agencies” by cutting ties with Israeli universities, cultural institutions and also ceasing any ongoing collaborations involving the Israeli industrial sector. 

The union also calls on UCC to “Offer state/university support to Palestinian academics and students and commit to investing in the restoration of Palestinian education” which would be done through the creation of “a short-term Palestine Emergency Response Working Group”.

“If we do not receive a satisfactory response to these demands by close of business this Friday, we will have no choice but to escalate to further action”, it concluded.

When asked by Trinity News if the ongoing encampment being held by Trinity Boycott Divestment Sanctions (TCD BDS) was a source of inspiration for the potential escalation of action by the union Communications & Engagement Officer for UCCSU Hayley O’Connell Vaughan said: “We were definitely inspired by TCDSU and TCD BDS on their action”.

“I have had the absolute pleasure of working alongside TCDSU President László Molnárfi on the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Campaigns Strategy Committee and I have took major inspiration from the way grassroots activism is being encouraged and facilitated by Unions across the country such as TCDSU”, they said. 

Vaughan continued saying “We are not ruling out anything in terms of an escalation of actions, we are hopeful that UCC will meet our demands, particularly since TCD has made headway in this area following their statement last night”.

Last night saw College issue a statement in which they pledged to review its ties to Israeli institutions. This development came three days into TCD BDS’ ongoing encampment occurring in Fellows’ Square. 

“This progress is good but we urge UCC to take this further and commit to our demands”.

“None of our demands are severe and we see no reason why the University will not be able to lend their voice to this cause”.

“We cannot simply stand back and watch this genocide unfold before our eyes, we must use our voices and urge our academic institute to do the same”.

They concluded by telling Trinity News that “Students are not happy with UCC’s links to Israeli Universities under the Horizon Europe project and we want to see these ties cut”. 

The petition launched by UCCSU demanding UCC end its silence on Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza has acquired over 700 signatures since being launched yesterday.

Trinity released its first official statement on the genocide titled “War in Gaza” last Wednesday. It came six months after the assault began.

34,262 Palestinians are estimated to have been killed with a further 77,229 wounded due to Israeli assaults on Gaza since October 7. 


Aoibhinn Clancy

Aoibhínn Clancy is the Deputy News Editor of Trinity News and is currently in her Junior Sophister Year studying History and Political Science.