UCDSU, Academics for Palestine and the newly formed UCD DBS held a protest outside the O’Reilly Hall in UCD last Tuesday. The protest had been planned for Monday, but was postponed due to Storm Debi, and the red alert issued to Dublin.
Between 300 and 400 staff and students attended the protest which saw speeches from Associate Professors Kieran Allen, UCDSU Campaigns & Engagement Officer Miranda Bauer, and students.
The demonstration was seeking to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, with UCDSU calling for an “academic boycott” of Israeli institutions.
“We’re calling for an academic boycott, in line with @bdsnationalcommittee, and call on UCD management to commit to cutting ties with Israeli institutions and to use their influence as a leading university in Ireland and the EU to join calls for a ceasefire,” the Union said on Instagram.
Academics for Palestine are calling on the UCD President to respond to the ongoing crisis in Gaza in the same way as the university responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A letter was sent to UCD President Orla Feely in relation to the violence in Gaza. The letter, dated November 9th, was sent on behalf “of concerned faculty, staff and students at UCD”.
This letter urges President Feely to join in calling for a ceasefire, highlighting how her voice carries influence as the President of a leading Irish University.
At the protest, Associate Professor Kieran Allen said that Professor Feely had responded to the open letter, saying that she was travelling and unable to give a full response until she returned to UCD.
The protesters said they would give the UCD President until 1pm on Wednesday (22nd) to respond to the letter or they would protest again.
Over 800 Irish academics have already committed to the proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions. This call for boycott was issued by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI). The urgency of this appeal has been emphasised by Israeli bombing which completely destroyed Gaza’s top two Universities, the University of Gaza and Al-Azhar University.
The letter highlights that members of the UCD community want “concrete action” from the University in support of PACBI’s boycott.
This would mean the “suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions; divestment and financial disinvestment from projects or investments with ties to Israeli military and defence technologies; and withdrawal from participation in institutional cooperation agreements, joint projects, or research and development activities with Israeli universities, research institutes and cooperations”.
The letter outlines in clear terms exactly what is expected from the University to show solidarity with the people of Palestine.
This is structured into three key requests: a statement from the institution calling for a ceasefire, the identification and subsequent release of the details of any existing institutional partnerships with Israeli universities and finally, a commitment to sever said ties with Israeli universities in accordance with the Palestinian “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’’ (BDS) movement.
This should be done in order to advocate “for a peaceful, democratic future for all residents of Palestine and Israel”. The letter concluded by reinforcing the importance of taking these actions in order to fulfil “UCD’s commitments to social justice and equality for all”.
The representatives of UCD Justice for Palestine and Academics for Palestine ask President Feely to respond to the letter as a matter of urgency, as every day that passes means “the loss of more Palestinian life”.
The letter was signed by Associate Professors Kieran Allen and Sharae Deckard, on behalf of faculty, staff and students of UCD Justice for Palestine. It was also signed by UCD Student Union (UCDSU) President Martha Ní Riada on behalf of UCD Students’ Union.
Hugh Dooley & Ellen Clusker – Editor & Assistant News Editor