Security guards enter Trinity building occupied by students
Sit-in taking place since Tuesday in protest at introduction of new fees for repeat exams
Trinity College Dublin students are demanding proposed exam-resit fees be scrapped, that affordable rental options be introduced and that student fees not be increased. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Security guards have entered a Trinity College Dublin campus building occupied by student protestors.
Just before 5pm on Wednesday evening, a number of security staff entered the Dining Hall in the university’s Front Square where the sit-in has been taking place since about 10am on Tuesday.
It is in protest of the introduction of a new fee structure for supplemental examinations.
Students are demanding the proposed fees be scrapped, that affordable rental options be introduced and that student fees not be increased.
The arrival of a security team - students inside the building claim they are both on-campus staff and members of a private firm brought in by the university - is the first physical intervention since the occupation began.
A statement from Trinity College said students had not been locked inside the building, although this claim had not been made by those who spoke to The Irish Times.
“They can leave at any time they want, and the College is taking all steps to ensure that the students inside are safe,” it said.
“However, we are not letting anyone else into the building, as there were concerns that large numbers of non-students had been invited into the building through an open call, and this would result in unacceptable risks for all concerned.”
A college spokeswoman said the use of external security was not unusual on campus.
Two students involved in the campaign said doors to the toilets in the building had been locked and that while students are allowed to leave the Dining Hall, nobody is allowed enter. Earlier, students had been coming and going freely.
Garda emergency response
A spokeswoman for the protesters inside said they have been told any attempt to open certain internal doors would trip an alarm that would alert a garda emergency response team.
No physical confrontations have taken place.
“We planned for this,” the spokeswoman said shortly after the arrival of security staff, saying provisions were in place and that about 60 students remain inside and plan to stay there overnight.
A statement issued by the students said: “External security services are now blocking all entrances into the Dining Hall.
“Security have made it clear that no food or water will be permitted into the Dining Hall.”
Repeating claims that a garda response unit could be called, it continued: “This was a peaceful occupation with students allowed to enter and leave the building freely up until now.”
On Tuesday, a group of up to 50 students moved to block access to the college’s front gate while a second group blocked the entrance to the Book of Kells. Others briefly blocked the Nassau Street entrance.
Vice-Provost and chief academic officer Prof Chris Morash met student representatives to discuss their demands.
“We had a good discussion,” he said. “We have a sense of where they are coming from with this. We have asked them to go away and draught up what they think is fair. I am perfectly happy to engage with them and to work with them.”