TCD and freedom of expression
Sir, – As one of the students who attended the protest outside Israeli ambassador Ze’ev Boker’s planned talk in Trinity College Dublin in 2017, I am outraged to read that the provost, Prof Patrick Prendergast, has claimed that there was a “very real danger of violence” at that event (“Trinity and Richard Dawkins: Better to debate ideas than to ban them” Opinion & Analysis, November 10th).
At all stages throughout the protest, attendees could, and did, access the lecture hall. Many chose not to – some even chose to join us – but a number ignored us, entered the lecture hall, and left subsequently, apparently disappointed that the talk did not go ahead as planned.
I have no doubt that our presence was inconvenient and even embarrassing for Prof Prendergast, who is on the record as planning to “deepen engagement” with the Israeli state, despite its ongoing human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, and against the wishes of the majority of the student body, as demonstrated by overwhelming support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in a TCD Student Union referendum the following year.
To attribute the cancellation of an event to “security precautions” would be one thing, but Prof Prendergast’s insinuation that any of the approximately 40 students at the protest were likely to commit violence is, in itself, a deplorable attack on freedom of expression. – Yours, etc,
TCD Students for Justice
Finglas, Dublin 11.