One member of the Socialist Party (Southern Ireland), Darren Cogavin, and one other student, Enda Duffy, were forced to meet the vice president for students in UCD, Dr Martin Butler. They face punishment for engaging in a peaceful protest against Shell and the Green Party minister for natural resources, Eamon Ryan.
Two protests, organised by Shell to Sea, took place on 30 October in UCD, the biggest college in Dublin. They were protests to oppose the giveaway of over €50 billion worth of gas for free by the Irish government to Shell, and the building of an unsafe onshore pipeline and refinery by Shell in Rossport, County Mayo.
The first protest was outside a Shell recruitment fair, highlighting the role of Shell in Mayo and internationally. The second took place outside a lecture theatre where Eamon Ryan was due to speak at a debate. He was confronted by about 50 protesters chanting at him and he turned on his heels and left.
In its aftermath, the college authorities and some right-wing students have tried to paint these as violent protests, which they were not. Three students have received letters from the college authorities, claiming that the protesters harassed students, intimidated staff and put the safety of others at risk.
One of the students has already met with the authorities and been given a fine of up to €100. No student should face any disciplinary action, or have to pay any fine, for engaging in a peaceful protest.
This is clearly an attempt to criminalise protest on campus. We think they can be forced back on this through pressure in the college - the Students' Union president has supported the students - and from outside, with a campaign of emails and phone calls.
We are asking for emails of protest to be sent to Dr Martin Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send emails and make phone calls as soon as possible, as Darren and Enda are now likely to face a disciplinary committee. Protest emails should also be sent to the UCD President at email@example.com and copied to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While emails will put pressure on the university management, phone calls can have more of an impact. Martin Butler can be phoned on 00353 1 716 1280 and the UCD President, Hugh Brady, can be rung on 00353 1 716 1618.
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