On Wednesday, 27th of March, the UCDSU joined forces with the UCD BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) group to storm the Tierney Building to protest the genocide occurring in Palestine and specifically, the reluctance of UCD President Orla Feely to speak out about the humanitarian crisis and call for a ceasefire on behalf of the university.

This protest is part of an ongoing campaign by the UCDSU and UCD BDS group to show their support for Palestine and the suffering of the Palestinian people. The group gathered at the main lake on the Belfield campus at 1 pm and marched to the Tierney Building.

The crowd stood outside the Tierney Building, which houses the office of UCD President Orla Feely and the offices of other members of university management while chanting “Orla in your ivory tower, this is called people power!” This was followed by a short address from UCDSU President, Martha Ní Riada, who stated that “neutrality is a stance, it is a stand with the oppressor.” She then called for the group to storm the entrance to the Tierney Building.

Security struggled to hold back the crowd who were pushing to enter through the main doors of the building. The protestors were pushing and shouting “One, two, three, four, occupation no more. Five, six, seven, eight, Israel is a terrorist state!”

Students Storm Tierney Building to Protest Silence on Gaza Conflict - Credit: Sarah McGrath
Students Storm Tierney Building to Protest Silence on Gaza Conflict – Credit: Sarah McGrath

The group then ran across to the Newman Building where they fled up to the first floor, through the School of Information and Communication Studies, and into the tunnel that connects the Arts Block to the Tierney Building. There was no security presence at this level and protestors flooded into the Tierney Building where they lined the staircase to President Feely’s office.

Armed with Palestinian flags and a megaphone, the group intentionally disrupted the work of the administrative staff in the Tierney Building to draw attention to their cause. When asked why the Students’ Union decided to take a more disorderly approach to the protest, UCDSU Welfare Officer, Jill Nelis, said “Despite everything we have tried, we are getting completely blanked by the university. We have tried to ask for a ceasefire and Orla Feely has said no. Everything else we have tried has failed.”

Speaking exclusively to The College Tribune about the protest, leader of the UCD BDS group, Joseph Collins (Josie) said “We were entering the building and occupying the stairwell that leads to Orla Feely’s office because clearly what we’ve done before isn’t working or getting the message across enough. President Feely does need to know that there is a body of students and staff who are not afraid to escalate the protest, in whatever form that escalation may take.”

He continued saying “President Feely would be right to be afraid that the students and staff are turning against her because that is the reality of what is happening and also it should be an example for other members of the university staff of the power of the students. This action was directed at Orla Feely but also to anyone who is supporting her, to know that we won’t shut up and that we will continue until the President and UCD align with our values of supporting Palestine and condemning Israel.

Emma Hanrahan – Co-Editor