May 4, 2024

Gaza Solidarity Encampment Begins on Campus

Beginning an encampment just after 8pm on Friday, May 3rd, around 60 students have settled into Fellows’ Square, blocking access to the Book of Kells.

Alex PayneAssistant Editor

The Trinity College Dublin Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Group (TCD BDS) have begun a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” in Fellows’ Square outside the Arts Building on Trinity’s campus, having set up tents and pro-Palestinian banners just after 8pm on Friday May 3rd, 2024.

In a post on their Instagram page last night, TCD BDS stated in the caption: “We have started an encampment on Trinity’s campus. Trinity has closed down the campus to everyone except students and staff. We need all the support we can get from students and staff.”

Also in the post, TCD BDS list their demands. They are to “sever every single tie with Israeli institutions”, “make an unequivocal statement of solidarity condemning the ongoing genocide, destruction of infrastructure, settler-colonialism, apartheid and occupation of Palestine” and “that TCD commits to reparations to fully support 100 Palestinian scholars to undertake their studies at College”.


Trinity’s campus is currently closed to the public. Only those with a valid student ID card are currently allowed to enter. On Trinity’s official Instagram account, a story uploaded last night stated: “A student TCD BDS encampment is in place in Trinity. Trinity supports students’ right to protest within the rules of the university.”

“To ensure that the protest is as safe as possible for all, access to campus is restricted to students, staff & residents with college ID cards only. We will keep you updated.”

Multiple protesters have spoken to The University Times on the condition of anonymity. They say they want to remain anonymous because of the potential risks faced by those identified, such as potential suspension, expulsion and/or fines.

One protester revealed that the encampment was due to begin on the morning of Saturday May 4th, but that “due to hearing that college were not allowing some members of the public in last night” members of TCD BDS rallied at short notice to begin the encampment that night.

One protester described the encampment as “an inevitable escalation”. TCD BDS have previously taken disruptive action in Blockading the Book of Kells exhibition and protesting senior administration meetings.

Another protester described a “nervous” energy in the group when the encampment was beginning. They revealed that they had had some interaction with security, but that this amounted to no more than their presence. As of yet, no protesters have said they have been asked to reveal their identities by campus security.

One protester said that they were attending “because we no longer want to sit and advocate in email form”. They also revealed that they had “slept great” the first night and had enjoyed their porridge, cooked by someone on campus for the encampment, for breakfast. They hoped to remain at the encampment “for the foreseeable future”.

TCD BDS has also requested camping, food and hygiene provisions from those that are able to enter campus.

One protester said that the encampment currently had enough food “for the next three or four days”, as well as some medical and personal hygiene supplies. “If anything, we are lacking bedding and waterproof tarps for tents”, they added.

Another protester revealed that the group Academics for Palestine had provided the encampment with food when setting up last night.

There are currently just over 30 tents set up, surrounded by benches, alongside a central gazebo where protesters are keeping food and other supplies. 

Others are painting more banners. Text in support of Gaza as well as criticising Trinity are painted onto the outside of tents.

One such message reads: “Silence is Crime.” Another reads: “If you don’t like what you see look away like you do with genocide.”

There is also a message written in chalk on one of the concrete walls in front of the Arts Building. It reads: “Linda Doyle You Can’t Hide Stop Funding Genocide.”

As has been seen at other pro-Palestinian encampments across the world, there is potential for engagement with authorities. Aware of this, one protester revealed that TCD BDS have organised ‘Know Your Rights’ training for encampment attendees. “We’re trying to make everyone feel safe”, they said. 

‘Know Your Rights’ training focuses on learning what one’s constitutional rights are when taking direct action or engaging in protests and demonstrations.

Conor Reddy, current President of the Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation Ireland (PWO) and People Before Profit Representative for Ballymun-Finglas, said: “This is exactly what the moment has called for.” 

“For a long time people have been really building towards something to really challenge College,” he said.

Another protester said: “We are here and we are not going to leave.” They also added that it was “great to see strength in numbers” and to see “the attitude of: I’m still going to fight the power” despite the potential risks of the encampment.

One onlooker described the encampment as “inspiring”, while another said: “I am happy that something has been set up to force the college to make some kind of decision, to take some kind of action.” 

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