Bar dispute will ruin us says SU

 

THE students' union in Maynooth College says it faces a financial crisis in an ongoing dispute over the running of the student bar. The dispute, which was sparked off earlier this year when an injunction was threatened against the bar by a person living adjacent to the college, could leave the union unable to make loan repayments on the facility, which costs around £85,000 per year.

Last month, an objection was made to the renewal of the bar licence by the Garda inspector in Naas district. The objection followed on from a case last July, when a local man sought an injunction against the bar after people who, the union says, were non students caused breaches of the peace.

In July, just before the case was due to go to court, the college made a number of proposals to the plaintiff, including a proposal to halve the number of students allowed in the bar to 550 and to give complete control over the venue to college security, although the union says it was not consulted about this. As a result, the plaintiff agreed not to object to the licence renewal in September and signed an agreement to this effect.

According to the union, the college then produced a two page document reiterating all these proposals but with additions made, including a limit on bar extensions and the formulation of a committee consisting of the two students' union sabbaticals and the two college trustees. All student centre events would go before the committee with, says the union, a final veto for the college.

The union refused to signs the agreement, on legal advice from their own solicitors. It pointed out that it had already introduced security cameras and sound limiters in an effort to improve the situation, at a cost of £18,000. The college indicated that it would find it difficult to support the union's application for a renewal of the bar licence unless it signed the agreement.

The union went to court anyway last month, when a decision was deferred.

Judge John Brophy warned that if there were still problems by that date he would refuse the licence. Earlier, the judge had commented that students were "in and out of (his) court all the time" and that it was on his "prodding" that the objection had been lodged.

Students in the college held an emergency meeting last Thursday, at which they were supported by student leaders from TCD and UL. A demonstration is now likely when the trustees of the college, who are the bishops of Ireland, meet at the college next month. The union is also seeking further legal advice in relation to the powers of the bar trustees.

"We're spending students' money hand over fist in order to placate the situation and we are in a financial crisis," says Gerard Griffin.

"We're very concerned that the students should sign an agreement with the college," says the bursar of the college, Pat Dalton. "The college authorities are responsible for any building on the campus." He would prefer if the students prepared a document which would be agreeable to all concerned.

"I believe they would be very unwise to disregard both what the college is saying and, indeed, what the judge is saying. If they refuse to comply, I believe they may find it very difficult in a court situation to prove their good faith."