Leftist students for social progress.

Month: October 2021

Press Release GSU and S4C – Protest 16th October

Dear undergraduates, dear postgraduates, dear students, 

As we approach reading week, Trinity College Dublin’s constant disregard for our needs continues to decimate our community. Our mental health and the impact of an uncertain and compromised educational experience again this year sees many of our community struggle. The time has come for action, the time has come for us to demand a partial refund.  

Students 4 Change (S4C) alongside the Trinity college Dublin Graduate Students’ Union (TCDGSU) are organizing a joint Undergraduate-Postgraduate protest on the 16th of October to show our support for anyone who is feeling forgotten and anxious in these times.

We will be marching from TCD’s Front Square starting at 4pm to the Dáil, where we will join other groups in Ireland to protest against our institutions in public. You are invited to join as we challenge our College publicly and demand our contractual rights, make our voices heard for in-person lectures or refunds and call out Trinity’s disregard for our mental health.

We demand that Management:

  • Issue a partial refund to any student who suffered unnecessarily In 2020/2021/2022.
  • Allow jobs currently managed by the TCDGSU to remain in place until the end of Semester 1 so as to allow a smooth transition to a post-pandemic year. Mask wearing should have peer-to-peer support and this employment has saved lives.
  • Use the same exam format as last year, both for standard assessment in Semester 1 and for Schols. Open-book exams are a holistic way of assessment and should be encouraged all-around. Listen to our anxiety and don’t challenge our mental health.
  • Make sure that in all cases, assessments are the least stressful possible, and adequate training be given to students for Semester 2’s in-person exams. For example, put a permanent end to the use of the invasive Proctorio monitoring software, which is racist, does not work for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and has serious data privacy issues. 
  • Reverse the 2.3% and 4% rent hike in Trinity Accommodation for students and staff respectively. Some of us are struggling to pay this and can’t afford three meals a day.
  • Take steps by the end of Semester 1 towards ethical investment and ethically-sourced research and provide an official commitment for this, decrying its links with Israel, the war-industry and Declan Ganley.
  • Give College security the respect they deserve and not have them chasing students who carry alcohol in their bags to have a social drink with friends on campus.
  • Commit itself to a student to counselor and student to mental health nurse ratio of 1:1000. 
  • Give money from Trinity Ball to mental health services.
  • Install proper hybrid learning systems within College, at no extra cost to professors and teaching assistants and commit to make sure that face-to-face education remains a vital part of our education, while allowing choice for students for inclusivity reasons.
  • Compensate undergrads and postgrads for last year. Compensation which can be given immediately in the short-term are as follows, which we demand:
    • Make the Buttery free for this year
    • Per-module refund for this year, for every online class
    • Refund of services and facilities cost that we did not get to use last year
    • Postgrads for one-year courses / exchange students who left: give permanent access to digital library resources 
    • Give access to students to *all* online education resources on BlackBoard from their respective Schools
    • LinkedIn Learning packages for Business school students
    • Membership to students who wish to use the gym who didn’t get to use it ,ast year 
    • Cover the cost of graduation gowns at commencements as an apology

This list is to be understood as a reiteration and an expansion on the earlier one, not as a replacement. 

With no significant changes made in the Budget 2022 to publicly fund the third-level sector or accommodation, we are faced with a continuing academic year which will bring continued uncertainty and anxiety. Our mental health is severely impacted; we are living in hostels in groups, unable to afford better accommodation, we are struggling to keep up again this year and we’re aggrieved that we were lured to Dublin, when we could have stayed with our families and learnt online for the first semester at home? If we have no face-to-face learning currently on campus why are we here?

We have been cheated again like last year’s students (2020/21) who had the worst student experience in history and are currently being refused refunds. The GSU has pressed College hard for six months for percentage refunds for the students of 2020/21 working on real data from a Survey conducted by the GSU.

The decision to call this protest has not been taken lightly, but was made due to our institution’s neglect of students’ needs and specifically in light of no real progress being made with regards to the issue of #ReturnOrRefund and lacking mental health support. 

Firstly, both undergraduate and postgraduate students have expressed in clear, democratic and justified terms a demand for a refund of the student contribution fee from 2020-2021. 

For undergraduates, this is evidenced by TCDSU Council’s motion in April where the union adopted a position in support of refunds for the academic year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For postgraduate students, the GSU “Postgraduate Student Experience Survey” of last year, in which 1,246 students took part, expressed that 78% support refunds as compensation for the reduced value for money, e.g. lack of access to services (e.g. paying the sports centre contribution fee throughout the whole pandemic and not getting access), during the pandemic. At the April 14th GSU EGM, postgraduate students voted for a motion demanding refunds.

Across the three faculties of AHSS, EMS, and HS, postgraduate students expressed above 90%+ disapproval of the overall student experience across the aspects of learning, social life and financial matters.

Similarly, students all the way from Freshers to PhD candidates are dissatisfied with the chaotic and essentially non-existent re-opening plan of our College for the Semester 1 of the 2021-2022 academic year. Just recently, 200-300 protested on Front Square, while thousands more interacted with the social media posts of the organizers as a general outpouring of discontent swept across campus that the experience of last year looks set to be repeated for Semester 1, again without any compensation. 

This is also evidenced by an independent survey, in which 866 students took part in as of September 17th 2021. Out of those 866, 83% said that they were dissatisfied with our College’s reopening and 42% said that this affected them financially, as for example they had to take up expensive accommodation in expectation – and eventual disappointment – of an in-person learning experience. Despite the first independently-organized protest, College still looks to not have their ducks in a row, as evidenced by TCDSU’s open-letter on the necessity of re-timetabling and the lack of a plan from the Provosts’ Office.  

Secondly, and closely tied with the the issue of #ReturnOrRefund, is the mental health of students, staff and of our community.

In 2020-2021, the counselling services of our College averaged, at peak times – build up to exams –  over 100 on the waitlist and several weeks to see a 1-1 counsellor.  For the 11.4% or so of the total student population who relied on this service during the trying times of the pandemic, this could have, and probably has led to long-term negative consequences. Not only were students used as cash cows and had no educational experience, there were no robust support systems in place to make last year manageable for many students stuck at home. Many reported increased feelings of anxiety, but not just students, staff reported work intensification (65%), loneliness (43%) and emotional exhaustion (51%). 

Recently, it has come to light that our College’s re-opening plan will leave many students doing their exams in-person, in the RDS, as they continue to have online lectures. The Senior Lecturer also said on the 12th of October 2021 in an email that exams and Schols will be in-person. This proposal is an affront to students. After one-and-a-half years of online learning and digital note taking, many students will suddenly be told to sit in the RDS as if nothing happened. Outrageously, this plan has no regard for the immense stress that our 17,000 or so students faced last year, and with the same disregard to student wellbeing has absolutely no support structures in place. Similarly, postgraduate students who are employed as TAs, and professors in general, have recently reported that they are under ‘unprecedented pressure’ with the continuation of online learning due to the technological complexities associated with lecture delivery – our College could easily invest in automatic lecture recording software in situ, which would ease stress for the whole community, but this would require investment.  

Regarding recent developments, Budget 2022 provides a 5 million € investment for mental health, but this is not enough. According to the USI’s pre-budget submission for 2022, they  asked for 28 million €, and according to them, “a third of students at 33.94% feel that their mental health has worsened as a result of COVID-19”. This is to ensure that student to counsellor and student to mental health nurse ratio is 1 per 1000 at 17.5 and 11 million € respectively. There are also non-budgetary asks in USI’s document, such as adopting the holistic Lancet Model, which are also very important.

Our College has 8 counsellors at the moment, which is roughly 1 per 2000. Out of the 5 million €300,000 was given to our College, but this is not anywhere near enough to fix the ratio. This is the government’s fault, but College should be speaking up more loudly and not pretending that our counselling services are in good shape. They could equally re-prioritize their budget away from capital projects (i.e. fancy buildings, which, in this time of crisis, are a luxury) to the community’s needs. 

Recently, an article in the University Times claimed that our College has cleared the waitlist on their counselling services. According to the Provost’s email to us on September 22nd 2021, the waitlist was clear a couple weeks back too. It has 40+ days during the build up to exams, which is the issue. “We have no one on the waiting list” does not mean a lot if support systems fail when they are actually needed.

In essence, our College has consistently put increased revenues in front of our community’s well-being. It is time to make our voices heard and demand that we be treated as humans, not as cash cows. 

We thus invite you to march with us on the 16th of October at 4pm, starting from TCD’s Front Square, as we demand that the College provide us a proper educational experience, refunds for last year and Semester 1, and that they take into consider students’ wellbeing and immediately invest in better mental health supports. 

László Molnárfi, Chairperson, Students4Change +32 470583174  

Gisèle Scanlon, President, Graduate Students’ Union +353864120444

Abhisweta Bhattacharjee, Vice-president, Graduate Students’ Union +918583981336


And press release GSU:

Update 13/10/2021
The TCDGSU will be protesting with Students4Change and other groups on October 16th to seek justice for the lack of consideration visited on our members in 2020/2021/2022. We are protesting to highlight student mental health and the impact of an uncertain and compromised educational experience again this year which sees many of our community struggle. The Budget 2022 has spread resources too broadly and too widely. The government is out of touch with the student struggle and mental health reforms although welcome are well short of what we need. The allocation of mental health funds to Trinity College as part of budget 2022; how much is NEW investment or is most of the figure funding which is already allocated? Taking all of this into account…. The time has come for action, the time has come for us to protest and demand a partial refund.
Please see releases attached to this email:Please see the GSU PG Student Experience Feedback Survey 2020/21 Please see release in conjunction with Student4Change attached.  
Mandate Motion 5 Partial Fee refund which has earned 623 votes; 23 votes not supporting (4%) and 600 votes supporting (96%), and the motion is deemed to have passed 14th April, 2021.

  1. Motion mandating that the Graduate Students’ Union of Trinity College shall advocate on the behalf of Postgraduate students for the partial returning of fees for the year due to a failure on the part of the College to provide students that which they were promised when they registered.

a. It is the position of the Graduate Students’ Union that Postgraduate students of Trinity College Dublin have been affected more than any contingent of Students within the College community.

b. There had been a promise of a blended approach to teaching throughout the year with at least some face-to-face tuition. In the vast majority of cases, the College has failed to provide what they promised in relation to this and offered full online programs instead of regular ones. As such Postgraduate students who elected to attend Trinity were sold one product and were in fact delivered an entirely different and gravely inferior one.

c. There were many periods throughout the Academic year in which it would have been feasible for College Students to attend small face-to-face classes, yet the College remained teaching online. Even now Primary and Secondary school students are attending classes while College students are being confined to home, many of them paying huge amounts for rented residence abroad, which has had a quantifiable impact on many individuals’ academic performance, academic motivation, personal health, and mental health.

d. The Irish Government itself acknowledges this quantifiable impact. This is why as part of Ireland’s Budget 2022, the Ministry for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science granted on December 2020 a €250 payment to all full-time EU students in publicly-funded higher education institutions, to acknowledge the impact this pandemic has had on third-level students.

e. Also, various College services that were paid by the students’ tuition fees, were not provided during this academic year, such as access to academic materials in libraries (manuscript rooms), access to the sports facilities, dining spaces, etc.

f. As such it is submitted that the College has a contractual obligation and a moral duty to reimburse students and partially return fees garnered from false advertising and failed contractual obligations of delivery of services and the agreed quality of services, or else shall no doubt be seen to be acting in bad faith with little or no regard for their students who paid an exorbitant amount to be effectively attending weekly webinars.

Mission Statement and Guiding Principles

Students 4 Change, is an independent, open-forum, democratic alliance of students from Ireland. We are Marxists and Anarchists, but we operate on the principles of the United Front, which means that a wide variety of left-leaning students and organizations take part in our actions.

The reason we are organizing is because we are a group of students discontent with our Universities, with this government and with this system. We aim to set up an Alliance of students, staff, auxiliary staff and different groups, societies and organizations to challenge the corporatization of our Universities, which has led to a loss of democracy, disregard for the community and a ceaseless strive for profit within our institutions.

Until now, most advocacy groups have framed issues in Universities as apolitical, isolated, single-issue problems specific to the University which are redeemable through managerial means. We, on the other hand, aim to have a big-picture leftist analysis of these trends – the way that capital has encroached on academia – and propose an alternative in a way that ties within the larger worldwide struggle against capitalism. This is the way forward if we want to make change within our institutions, society and the world.

Students 4 Change Releases Plan to Make Trinity Divest from the War-Industry and Cut Ties with Declan Ganley

Dear TCD BDS, dear SU Citizenship Officer, dear SU Ethnic Minorities Officer, dear SU President,

I am writing as Chairperson of Students 4 Change on behalf of our Students 4 Peace campaign, and all the students in this campaign who are very concerned about Trinity College Dublin’s involvement with the war-industry. 

Students 4 Peace brings together students fighting for the pacifist and humanitarian principles of Irish neutrality. One of our goals, namely that of making our College divest from war-related stocks, is also the aim of BDS and TCDSU. As of 2020, our College invests ~2.6 million euros into Arms and Weaponry manufacturers, such as BAE systems, Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company through its endowment fund. These companies are used, for example, by the Israeli government to uphold their illegal colonial project on the territory of Palestine.

We are writing in essence to inform you of the next steps that Students 4 Change will take to make our College divest from their unethical investments in arms and warfare activities across the world. When we emailed Provost Linda Doyle in August, she was very forthcoming and informed us that she will convene a Committee on ethical investment the following month, with the involvement of a diverse range of representatives from College. 

Since then, they have taken steps to divest from the fossil-fuel industry, but no news of the Committee and divestment from the war-industry. In addition to the news that our College has 2.6 million € invested in the war-industry, Students 4 Change has also uncovered that College has close research funding links with Mr. Declan Ganley, a multimillionaire who campaigned for anti-abortion in Ireland, is involved with the war-industry, and has close ties with Trump and the far-right.

I would like to note in particular, that Declan Ganley’s ex-Party, Libertas, allied itself with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a pro-Israel organization which claimed in 2013 that BDS is a “thinly-disguised effort to coordinate and complement the violent strategy of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim ‘rejectionists’ who have refused to make peace with Israel for over six decades, and to pursue a high-profile campaign composed of anti-Israel big lies to help destroy the Jewish State by any and all means”.

We propose, if our College does not take further steps by the end of Semester 1 towards ethical investment and ethically-sourced research, for you to join Students 4 Change in formally challenging our institution’s status as a ‘University of Sanctuary’. Currently, our College, despite its efforts and certain notable achievements, does not live up to the latter award which is given for work in promoting the integration, inclusion and welfare of refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.  

We are informing the Provosts’ Office of this plan, so that they have ample time to act.  

From the attached document, here is a quote from the Irish branch of the ‘University of Sanctuary’ movement. Awards should not be awards for the sake of awards; they should be given for concrete and continued commitments to a set of ideals. 

University of Sanctuary Ireland (UoSI) is an initiative to encourage and celebrate the good practice of universities, colleges and institutes welcoming refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants into their university communities and fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion for all those seeking sanctuary.   

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Best Regards,

László Molnárfi

Students 4 Change

Chairperson 

Picture1.pngis an alliance of Marxist and Anarchist students from Trinity College Dublin focused on the housing crisis in relation to student accommodation, Irish neutrality, SU reform and other matters of student politics. Go on our website students4change.eu, follow us on social media or email us at [email protected]!


And here is our email to Provost Linda Doyle.

Dear Provost Linda Doyle, 


I am writing again as Chairperson of Students 4 Change to seek your official commitment and update on the steps taken towards policies on ethical investment and ethically-sourced research at Trinity College Dublin, including cutting all ties with Israel, Declan Ganley and divesting completely from the war-industry. We would like to thank you for your work on fulfilling our College’s pledge to divest from the fossil-fuel industry, but we believe there is more work to do on this front. 
To reiterate again: 

  • Students 4 Change has uncovered that College has close research funding links with Mr. Declan Ganley, a multimillionaire who campaigned for anti-abortion in Ireland, is involved with the war-industry, and has close ties with Trump and the far-right.
  • As of 2020, our College invests ~2.6 million euros into Arms and Weaponry manufacturers, such as BAE systems, Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Company through its endowment fund. These companies are used, for example, by the Israeli government to uphold their illegal colonial project on the territory of Palestine.
  • We would also like to note in particular, that Declan Ganley’s ex-Party, Libertas, allied itself with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a pro-Israel organization which claimed in 2013 that BDS is a “thinly-disguised effort to coordinate and complement the violent strategy of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim ‘rejectionists’ who have refused to make peace with Israel for over six decades, and to pursue a high-profile campaign composed of anti-Israel big lies to help destroy the Jewish State by any and all means”.

After discussing with members of Students4Change, we propose that if our College does not take further steps by the end of Semester 1 towards ethical investment and ethically-sourced research and provide an official commitment, decrying its links with Israel, the war-industry and Declan Ganley, that we will challenge our institution’s status as a ‘University of Sanctuary’. Currently, our College, despite its efforts and certain notable achievements, does not live up to the latter award which is given for work in promoting the integration, inclusion and welfare of refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants. Every day, lives are lost, families are destroyed and oppression continues to reign because of the military-war industry – we must actively fight against it, regardless of profits or the prestige of our College. 


The prestige of our College should lay not in its research funding or links with business donors, but in its eternal commitment to virtues such as social reform, democracy, independent research and peace – most of these virtues are listed on our College’s mission statement as well. 

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Best Regards,


László Molnárfi


Students 4 Change


Chairperson 


Picture1.pngis an alliance of Marxist and Anarchist students from Trinity College Dublin focused on the housing crisis in relation to student accommodation, Irish neutrality, SU reform and other matters of student politics. Go on our website students4change.eu, follow us on social media or email us at [email protected]!

Trinity’s Links with Declan Ganley and the Far-Right are Morally Reprehensible

László Molnárfi

From the lovely Cafe Tri Via in southside Dublin one can see a stretch of buildings, most of them the property of Trinity College Dublin, accumulated over the years for real estate investment. One of these, on the right, is CONNECT’s headquarters, a research center for telecommunications projects with the involvement of third-level institutions across the country. It is funded by the government, headquartered by the College and influenced by over 45 industrial partners. Partners, who hold sway over the institution, like Rivada Networks, whose controversial founder Declan Ganley is involved with the right- to far-right sphere.

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It is this link that has led to Rivada Networks directly funding Trinity researchers, like in the case of then-Professor Linda Doyle’s and Peter Cramton’s 2016 paper on wireless markets, and many more through CONNECT.

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This is somewhat of an open secret amongst people familiar with academic research, but is not widely known. It is important to note, however, so as to realize that the corrupting influence of capital goes much further than Trinity’s two and a half million euro investment into the armaments industry, and gets its claws much deeper in the institution. The history of CONNECT is representative of the ruling mode of production and the intensification of capitalism over the past few decades.

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CONNECT used to be the CTVR, the Center for Communication and Value Chain Research of Trinity founded in 2004. It was now-Provost Linda Doyle who embarked on an ambitious project to transform it into what she envisioned to be a nation-wide multi-institutional research center. From this, CONNECT was born in 2015 as a public-private partnership, with the government’s Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and corporate players funding its 300+ researchers who come up with ideas, and third-level institutions like Trinity managing their projects and profiting from the system through getting paid for administrative expenses. Trinity has an especially important role in the project, not only in headquartering, but it also hosts its directors, one of them who was now-Provost Linda Doyle until 2018, when another professor from the College took over.

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Of course, the involvement of the government who demand spin-off companies with profitability and multinationals means it has an entrepreneurial bent.

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This is where Rivada Networks comes into the picture, which is one of the corporate players involved in funding research and real-world applications thereof. Mr. Ganley, its Chairman and CEO, sits on the board of CONNECT. And if by nothing else, his influence can be measured by his net worth of €455 million euros, which he amassed through a network of businesses in Ireland, the United States and Russia, primarily in the telecommunications field. In June 2021, he and then-Provost-elect Linda Doyle did an interview on CONNECT’s YouTube channel, indicating his continued involvement, which becomes problematic when considering his political views, the organizations he runs and where he spends his money.

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Mr. Ganley is described as one of Ireland’s most prominent conservatives, and he is on the limit of political respectability at first glance. Always one step shy from explicitly engaging in the extreme right network, he works to support the Christian, right-wing and far-right forces from the background. This is done mostly through funding and donations.

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In 2017, he gave the seed money for so-called ‘conservative student newspaper’ The Burkean, which at the time described itself as a publication of Trinity students aimed to fight the ‘degeneracy’ in the western world. This is, of course, a common far-right dog whistle.

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To take another example, at the time of the abortion referendum in 2018, he campaigned fiercely on the ‘No’ side, even saying that he will ‘not pay taxes that fund abortion’.

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The question is, of course, where the profit motive lies and where his money is coming from. Naturally not solely from endeavours such as CONNECT’s spin-off companies, Rivada Networks is supported by right-wing interests around the world. It is not a coincidence that his company employs people such as John McGuirk, the editor of far-right newspaper Gript.ie and political player who once called a pro-choice TD, Kate O’Connell, a “catty, spiteful, loathsome twit”. He was communcations director for the anti-abortion “Save The 8th” campaign in 2018, and during his time at Trinity College Dublin he was “was forced to apologise after anonymous emails used to make allegations of sexual harrasment against a member of TCD’s College Historical Society were traced back to him”.

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To find other proof for the involvement of vested interests one only has to open a newspaper. Near the end of his presidency, it was reported that Donald Trump was pressuring the Pentagon to give a no-bid contract to develop 5G spectrum to Mr. Ganley’s company, ‘whose prominent investors include Fox News regular Karl Rove and Peter Thiel, Trump’s biggest supporter in Silicon Valley’.

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This is not to mention that the directors of Rivada Networks include a former lieutenant general, two formal admirals and a former deputy-secretary of Homeland Security, who also sits on the board of LockHeed Martin, a defense contractor that Trinity coincidentally has an investment of 721,473 € in. In addition, it includes Richard B. Myers, fifteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who oversaw the 2001 invasion of Iraq by the United States. Mr. Ganley himself, through using Rivada Networks as a telecommunications supply company, tried to profit from the U.S. invasion of Iraq by securing contracts for the failed reconstruction effort in 2003.

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Later, between 2004 and 2008, ‘Rivada Pacific won contracts totaling $37.3 million from the U.S government.’

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In this light, Mr. Ganley’s former political party, the so-called Libertas, also makes sense. He set up Libertas to campaign against the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in 2018 in alliance with national-conservative forces, on a platform that presented itself as defending the ‘libertarian democracy’ of the European Union (EU). However, upon closer inspection, this was a red herring. The Irish Times in 2008 reported that Mr. Ganley’s aspirations came as part of his vision, written down in a paper for the Foreign Policy Research Institution (FRPI) in 2003, a neoconservative think-tank that promotes military interventionism and U.S. foreign policy goals, which at their core arise from an ever-growing need to expand the markets that capital can spread to.

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In this paper, he denounced European criticism of the Iraqi invasion, and declared that the EU must cease its ‘contradistinction to the United States, [that] this new Europe must be an equal partner and influence in the worldwide extension of justice and liberty,’ – a goal which Libertas shamelessly promoted.

Declan Ganley’s ex-Party, Libertas, also allied itself with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a pro-Israel organization which claimed in 2013 that BDS is a “thinly-disguised effort to coordinate and complement the violent strategy of Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim ‘rejectionists’ who have refused to make peace with Israel for over six decades, and to pursue a high-profile campaign composed of anti-Israel big lies to help destroy the Jewish State by any and all means”..

As such, if Trinity wants to adhere to its mission statement to promote a campus culture of ‘dedication to societal reform’, it should be more careful of where it gets its funding.

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