Members of the UCC Students’ Union outside Bishop Lucey Park in Cork city in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Photo: Emer Neville

Union: ‘Our actions have been met with silence’

The UCC Students’ Union has issued a letter to the university’s president urging him to end the college’s “silence on Palestine” and to “fulfil student demands”.

The letter, sent to UCC President Prof. John O’Halloran, said the union “stands in full solidarity with the Palestinian people who are facing genocide at the hands of Israel”.

In the letter, the UCC Students’ Union (UCCSU) called on the university to engage with demands asking that it condemn the genocide in Gaza and call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

The letter read: “There is a significant consensus at an international level regarding the ongoing human rights violations in Gaza and large-scale destruction of civilian infrastructure.”

The letter also underlined calls for an immediate ceasefire and the provision of “unfettered flows of humanitarian aid”.

“The actions by the State of Israel have left the Palestinian people in a state of poverty, terror, and fatal vulnerability,” said the union.

Union members also said they had “tried to engage” with Prof. O’Halloran to call attention to the issue.

“We have held a series of direct actions including rallies and a student walkout,” said the UCCSU spokesperson.

They added: “We have met with you and your administration to explain our stance and have urged UCC to join the academic boycott.”

According to UCCSU, over 400 UCC staff and 1,000 students and alumni have signed a letter demanding the university take action.

“Unfortunately, all our actions to date have been met with silence or excuses citing the wish of the university to remain ‘politically neutral’,” continued the spokesperson.

The union argues that the destruction of universities in Gaza amounts to discrimination regarding access to higher education, in opposition to “UCC’s obligations to Academic Freedoms under NUI Human Rights Principles and Code of Conduct”.

The letter continues: “As you are aware, academic freedom is fundamentally linked with other protections and rights.

“We believe that silence in the face of injustice is siding with the oppressor; thus, we call on UCC as a leading global changemaker to use its voice to call for an end to this injustice.”

The UCCSU has thus issued a statement condemning Israel’s deliberate destruction of Gaza's educational infrastructure, while calling for the establishment of a short-term Palestine Emergency Response Working Group.

The letter to Prof. O’Halloran concluded: “We urge you to please respond to these demands as soon as possible.

“If we do not receive a satisfactory response to these demands by close of business this Friday, we will have no choice but to escalate to further action.”