Mar 18, 2024

OC Recommends Censure of SU President

The Oversight Commission of the TCDSU recommends that President László Molnárfi be censured following “repeated breaches” of the Constitution.

Alex PayneAssistant Editor
Photo by Adam Rainbolt for The University Times

In a report to be presented to Student Council on Tuesday March 19th, 2024, the Oversight Commission (OC) of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) recommends that TCDSU President László Molnárfi be censured for “repeated breaches” of the Union’s constitution.

The OC, in a damning condemnation of the President’s actions, describes his behaviour as a “unilateral conscious and deliberate disavowal of the foundational document” and, as a result, is “recommending to council that they pass a motion of censure”. 

For the OC to recommend a motion of censure and, subsequently, for council to pass that motion, would be the highest possible official reprimand a Union member can receive.


A motion to censure the President is not currently on the agenda for next council, however any member in attendance on Tuesday evening may bring a procedural motion to submit an emergency motion during the council meeting.

Censure is no more than the formal expression of disapproval of a union member, and so would have no impact on Molnárfi’s current position as TCDSU President. However, if he were to respond in defence of his actions and in continued defiance of the constitution, this may lay the grounds for further action by council, such as impeachment, especially if it was to vote to censure him.

Impeachment would be decided by a student-wide referendum following a resolution to impeach being passed by two-thirds at a council meeting. This seems unlikely given the short time left in the academic year as there are limited opportunities to not only hold votes at the remaining councils but also for the Electoral Commission to organise a referendum within the remaining teaching weeks of this academic year.

The last TCDSU President to have their role put to an impeachment vote was Tom Lenihan in 2013 after he admitted to cheating on one of his exams. Lenihan remained in post. The last Union Officer to be censured was Jason Leonard – then Chair of the OC – in 2015, following allegations he had been involved in the spread of homophobia rumours about a candidate running in that year’s sabbatical elections.

Elsewhere in their report, the OC repeatedly sought to highlight how Molnárfi’s breaches threatened the “democratically chosen terms” of the constitution. In a listing of the President’s violations, the OC chose five separate occasions on which it deemed Molnárfi to have breached both his contractual and constitutional obligations. 

Following the post-class rep election disagreements between the TCDSU and Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation (PWO) in September, as reported in The University Times, Molnárfi, in support of the PWO, refused to second a motion, which was voted through via Union Forum, to withdraw TCDSU support from the PWO. When a motion is voted through via Union Forum the President is constitutionally obligated to second that motion.

Following this, in November, Molnárfi sat down with the Manchester University student newspaper, the Mancunion, to discuss his political approach. Amongst other criticisms of the TCDSU and its various bodies, Molnárfi claimed that his “faction” of support was popular enough that a resolution to impeach him would never be passed at student council. Not only criticising his use of the word “faction” due to it being “incompatible” with a union that is mandated to represent “all students”, the OC further claim that Molnárfi’s choice of words imply that he will “violate the Constitution” which “undermines trust in the Union and the Constitution”.

The report also criticises Molnárfi’s open denouncement of the Irish government in his recent voter drive for the various elections in 2024 and his adoption of a YES/NO stance on his official X, formerly Twitter, account in relation to the recent ‘women’s’ referendum held in Ireland.

In an unequivocal indictment of the President’s constitutional breaches, the OC states: “The conduct demonstrated by the President which we have brought to council today represents more than an act of protest but in fact a breach of his contract of employment to uphold the Constitution by its democratically chosen terms.”

The OC also chooses to equate his conduct with that of the now-derecognised GSU, which lost funding from TCD’s capitations committee following a series of constitutional breaches including a failure to submit its financial accounts. 

Alluding to a “potentially catastrophic situation as seen with the GSU”, the report later outlines that undermining trust through constitutional violations “has serious consequences for the Union ranging from decreased engagement in the mildest case to the loss of funding from the capitations committee in the most extreme case”.

In a statement to The University Times, with no signs of backing down from his seemingly pro-constitutional-breach stance, Molnárfi openly criticised the government, claiming that it “does not care about us” and that it is “committing social murder” in what he sees as their inadequate response to the cost of living crisis.

In response to the OC’s recommendation of censure, Molnárfi asked: “Why should a student union not be able to call out right-wing conservatives, who are actively destroying the country and who hate students, staff and the ordinary people of Ireland?”

Molnárfi claims that Section 1.4 of the constitution, which states that the union should pursue its aims independent of any political ideology and which he has unsuccessfully campaigned to change, is “outdated, ineffective and out-of-touch with the student population”.

In a wholehearted retort to the criticism he has received from the OC, Molnárfi implies that the OC is preventing him and those that support his cause from further enacting his “grassroots, radical and political approach”. 

He said: “If structures hamper instead of facilitating our solidarity with vulnerable groups, and if structures actively block, rather than aid our struggle for a better world, then those structures are not fit for purpose and must be abolished.”

“Bureaucracy is the bane of all progress. We need to abolish 1.4, abolish bureaucracy and install grassroots governance structures throughout the union.”

In another OC report to Tuesday’s student council, is the self-admittance by the OC that it itself is essentially not fit for service.

The OC says of itself that it has “failed to fulfil its mandates” and “failed to fulfil its duties”. As is seen in the report on the President’s constitutional breaches, Molnárfi has been committing breaches since at least October, perhaps earlier, yet this is the first time the OC has brought a report on his breaches to council. 

The OC has also not reviewed Schedule 4 of the Constitution, nor brought a checklisting report to council, and “there have also been issues where investigations have not been fully dealt with and communicated” – all duties it is mandated to carry out.

The new Chair of the OC is Jack Leahy following Maggie Larson’s resignation from the position at the start of the calendar year. To produce reports on the President and the Comms & Marketing Officer under its self-described conditions of “not enough staff” and not retaining “the institutional knowledge needed” to perform its functions will, for some, call into question the validity of the reports now coming to council. For others it may prove frustrating as their official call for condemnation of the President may have come too late to pave the way for a potential impeachment referendum.

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