University College Dublin (UCD) President, Orla Feely, has denied that the college has financial ties with Israel or any “formal bilateral partnerships” with Israeli universities in response to a pro-Palestine student encampment at Belfield. 

The student protestors issued a set of 11 demands to the university, including calls to sever any links with Israeli institutions, to not create new academic ties with the “settler colonial state of Israel”, to disclose “all ties, academic and financial, to Israeli institutions” and to divest from all Israeli companies. 

The student groups said the encampment, which they emphasised is a “peaceful expression of empathy and solidarity”, will continue until the university meets their demands. 

UCDSU Israel Palestine Protest in conjunction with UCD BDS - Photo by Hugh Dooley, The College Tribune

UCDSU Israel Palestine Protest – Photo by Hugh Dooley, The College Tribune

In response to these demands, UCD President, Professor Orla Feely, said that the university had been notified of “the establishment of an encampment” on the Belfield campus “in the context of the ongoing conflict, suffering and deaths in Gaza and Israel”. 

Professor Feely said the university “supports the rights of UCD staff and students to peaceful protest within the law and in compliance with university policies.” 

Responding to the divestment demands, UCD President Professor Feely said the university has confirmed to her that “UCD has no investments in Israel, so this issue of divestment does not arise for UCD.” 

The UCD President added “As an internationally engaged university, UCD has many formal bilateral partnerships with international institutions, underpinned by memoranda of understanding between the partners. We have no such partnerships with Israeli institutions.”

Professor Feely noted that the university currently participates in multi-partner EU research projects, 11 of which include Israeli institutions, however, she explained that “We [UCD] respect the academic freedom of UCD researchers to continue these research collaborations, most of which are in the areas of health and sustainability.” 

Students in the encampment said they were disappointed in the statement but expressed a desire to cooperate with the university.  

Éabha Hughes (22), co-founder of UCD BDS said nothing new had come from the statement, “The last business relationship or investment UCD had with Israeli businesses ended in November 2023, we knew that already. What we are concerned about is the 11 research links UCD has with Israeli institutions.” 

“President Feely is trying to justify doing academic work with Israeli institutions due to them pertaining to health and sustainability while that country is enacting genocide on the people of Palestine. That is absurd.” 

“It’s actually sickening for the university to justify academic ties with a country that is slaughtering thousands upon thousands of people, committing ecocide and killing academics.” 

“We want the university to call for a ceasefire, which is the bare minimum from a humanitarian standpoint.” 

“It’s very important to me that the genocide in Gaza stops, this is what I can do right now as a student to play a role in trying to make that happen.”

Emma Hanrahan & Hugh Dooley – Co-Editors