No access to Book of Kells as Trinity students stage Israel protest

No Access To Book Of Kells As Trinity Students Stage Israel Protest
Students have set up an encampment on campus to pressure the university to cut ties with Israel over its actions in Gaza. Photo: László Molnárfi/X
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James Cox

The Book of Kells is closed to the public today as students continue to protest over Gaza at Trinity College Dublin.

They have set up an encampment on campus to pressure the university to cut ties with Israel over its actions in Gaza. Organisers say 70 students in 43 tents took part.


The students union has been fined €214,285 by university management for its protests - which included blocking access to the Book of Kells.

In a post on X, outgoing students’ union president László Molnárfi said: “Students at Trinity College Dublin have set up an encampment for Palestine, demanding that their university cut ties with Israel as per BDS [Boycott, Divest, Sanction] principles supported by the vast majority of students and staff.”

He also posted a picture of benches stacked up to block the Old Library, where the Book of Kells is housed.

“We plan on staying here indefinitely, our message is there is no business as usual during a genocide,” he told the PA news agency.

“And when our academic institution, Trinity College Dublin, has ties to Israeli companies, entities and universities that are complicit in the war industry, we must speak up.


“And that is why we are doing this. And we must speak up in this disruptive, powerful way. Because when we tried to engage with the authorities, with petitions and letters and meetings, we were met with shameful silence.”

In a statement, Trinity said a “student TCD BDS encampment is in place in Trinity. Trinity supports students’ right to protest within the rules of the university and is monitoring the situation closely.

“Access to campus is restricted to students, staff & residents with college ID. We will keep you updated.”


Academics for Palestine said the group is appalled by recent moves by Trinity College to target student leaders and punish the Students’ Union.

It says it fully supports the "courageous student organisations" leading the Gaza encampment and shares their goal of pushing Trinity to cut ties with Israel due to its ongoing genocide in Gaza.

The encampment at Trinity mirrors universities across the United States where students are looking to pressure academic institutions into cutting ties with Israel.

Some of the US protests have led to clashes with authorities.


In response to the latest protest, the university said: “An unauthorised BDS encampment is in place in Trinity.

“While Trinity supports students’ right to protest, protests must be conducted within the rules of the university.”

It added: “To ensure safety, access to campus is restricted to students, staff, residents and Department of Sports Members with college ID cards only.

“As custodians of the Book of Kells, Trinity has an obligation to protect this national treasure at all times. The Old Library and Book of Kells Experience will be closed on Saturday, 4 May. All ticket holders have been refunded.

“As stewards of the Old Library, Trinity has a duty to protect the building and the Long Room. The closure of the Old Library impacts on researchers, whether they are students, staff or visiting international researchers. It also impacts on the staff working there, many of whom are students themselves.”

Trinity said it was responding to the war in Gaza in several ways.

It said the portfolio of companies included in its endowment fund investments are not hand picked by the university, but instead generated by its investment managers.

The university said work was ongoing to update the portfolio in line with a UN blacklist of companies.

In regard to ties with Israeli institutions, Trinity said it was for its academics to make their own decisions on what universities they collaborate with, insisting it will not impinge on that “cornerstone” of academic freedom.

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