May 2, 2024

Students and Staff Respond to Students’ Union Receipt of €214k Fine

In response to TCDSU’s receipt of a €214k fine for disruption, President László Molnárfi said “we will not be defeated”.

Sáoirse Goes and Clara Roche
Photo by Emer Moreau for The University Times

Students and staff have responded to a fine amounting €214,285 issued by College, which the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) received for actions that “disrupt the normal operation of activities within the college”. 

The invoice for the fine, received by TCDSU Administrative Officer Simon Evans, made reference to five dates this semester. A separate email, summoning four students to a meeting with the Junior Dean, referenced the same five dates on which members of the Students’ Union were accused of “disruptions or threats of disruption”.

The events referenced included blockades of the Book of Kells; an email sent to Provost Linda Doyle; a blockade of the Long Room; and disruption of work by Trinity Global in the East Theatre.


The four students summoned were TCDSU President Lászlo Molnárfi, Comms and Marketing Officer Aiesha Wong, TCDSU President-elect Jenny Maguire; and the Chair of Trinity’s Postgraduate Workers’ Organisation, Jeffrey Seathrún Sardina. 

In a statement to The University Times, Comms and Marketing officer Aiesha Wong said: “Trinity College is ironically holding students protesting against financial barriers ransom with a 0.2 million bill. Part of this bill also includes protests where students blocked the Book of Kells in solidarity with Palestine.”

Wong continued: “Intimidation tactics won’t change people’s morals. Cut ties with Israel, condemn the slaughter of innocents and genocide instead of calling it a ‘debate’ topic, and stop pricing the working class out of education.”

Speaking on X, formerly Twitter, TCDSU President László Molnárfi wrote: “We will not be intimidated!” In response to what he called “shameful union-busting” from College and the Provost, he said that “students and staff stand united against university management and their suppression of the student voice protesting for Palestine, as well as fees, rents, and postgraduate workers’ rights”. 

In a later post, Molnárfi said that the College had “declared war” on students in an “unprecedented escalation”. 

Also on X, TCDSU President-elect Jenny Maguire said that “the students united will never be defeated”, while PWO Chair Jeffrey Seathrún Sardina called the development a “disgrace”. 

Incoming Welfare Officer Hamza Bana said on Instagram that College were “further milking [students] for their money”, rather than “listening to [their] demands”. 

Also on Instagram, current TCDSU Disabilities Officer Keely Jenkinson called the fine “ridiculous”. 

One student pointed out that the fine issued was almost equivalent to the Provost’s annual salary, 

Several students have called for the Provost’s resignation.

In a statement to The University Times, a spokesperson for the College stressed that “Trinity College Dublin is a not-for-profit organisation” and that it therefore “cannot survive solely on Government funding”. 

Accordingly, the statement alleged that “the income generated from the Book of Kells is vital to keep the university going and it supports initiatives such as student services, the student hardship fund etc.”

Citing the “negative financial impact” of TCDSU’s blockading the Book of Kells, the statement maintained that “any loss of income at the Book of Kells Experience directly affects our ability to deliver services for our students, not to mention our legal obligation to financially balance the books”.

Although stressing that “the university supports students’ right to protest within the rules of the university”, the statement emphasised that “Trinity has an obligation to protect the Book of Kells which is a national treasure”.

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