Gardaí called to UCD after students who occupied building were removed by staff

Protesters from pro-Palestine encampment occupied University Club before being removed

Gardaí were called to UCD on Monday after a group of protesters involved in the pro-Palestine encampment tried to occupy one of the building on campus.

UCD said masked protesters were lawfully removed from the building to preserve the peace and ensure the safety of other staff and visitors.

A UCD Students’ Union statement said protesters engaged in “a non-violent direct action” by occupying the lobby of the University Club, chanting and waving flags to “protest the ‘business as usual’ attitude rampant on this campus during this ongoing genocide”.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesman for UCD said a small group of protesters from the encampment made their way into the lobby area of the University Club building.

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“The small group, many of whom were wearing full face coverings, included students and other individuals known not to have any affiliation with the university,” he said.

“The group moved about the lobby area and attempted to make their way into other areas of the building. Campus estates staff were in attendance to preserve the peace and ensure the safety of other staff and visitors.”

He said the group of protesters were lawfully prevented from entering into other areas of the building and gardaí attended the incident.

“No formal complaints have yet been filed with gardaí but statements were taken. The university has not yet received any formal complaints from the members of the protest group involved in the incident about how they have alleged they were responded to by our campus estates staff,” the UCD spokesman added.

Protesters issued a list of demands which they want UCD to address when they set up the encampment on May 11th last.

They include calls for the university to end all academic ties with Israel; to disclose all academic and financial links with Israeli institutions and enterprises and to commit to divest from any investments in the country; and to remove Israeli goods and supplier contracts from campus.

Other demands include that the university release a public statement calling for an end to genocide and call for a “one state solution, absent of any ethno-states in the region”; flying the Palestinian flag on campus until a permanent ceasefire is agreed; and the naming of the Centre of Future Learning building, which is under construction, after Palestinian writer and poet Refaat Alareer, who was killed in an air strike in Gaza last December.

UCD president Prof Orla Feely has said that UCD has no investments in Israel, or bilateral partnerships with Israeli institutions, so “this issue of divestment does not arise for UCD”.

Last week, Prof Feely wrote to students and staff to express dismay at what she described as “messages of hatred and violence that are entirely unacceptable”.

She was referring to graffiti chalked on the walls on the campus that was highly critical of Israel and Israeli policy in relation to Palestine. The slogans included “long live the intifada”, “Zionism is terrorism”, “death to Zionism” and “up the Ra”.

UCD’s BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) group responded and said the “supposed defacement of the campus has been completely in chalk” and they were protesting because of the university’s refusal to use the term “genocide” in its description of the conflict in Gaza.

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