Oct 5, 2016

Decision on Divestment Expected From College Report Set to be Published in November

Fossil Free TCD expressed hope that Trinity would decide to end its investments in fossil fuels.

Hannah Moody and Dominic McGrath
Edmund Heaphy for The University Times

Trinity’s Finance Committee will publish a report outlining its position on divestment in November, after months of lobbying and campaigning by Fossil Free TCD.

Speaking at a campaign meeting this evening, one of the leaders of Fossil Free TCD, Áine O’Gorman, said that while the group were unsure what response they would receive from College, they expected a report from the committee in early November.

A crowd of nearly 40 people came to the event in the Global Room this evening, where the campaign attempted to attract and recruit new members. Speaking at the event, O’Gorman said that College are “doing a review of all their investments with a view to divestment”.


Ahead of the publication of this report in November, O’Gorman emphasised the need to “keep the pressure on”.

Speaking to The University Times after the event, Colm Tong, a founding member of the campaign, said: “Based on the meeting we’ve had, we’re very positive. We’re expecting full divestment, but we’re also preparing if they say maybe or if they try and stall”.

Commenting on the future of the campaign, should College announce their intention to divest in November, Tong said they hoped to “use this as a springboard for other events”, stating: “If Trinity divests, that is a huge deal for Ireland”.

Speaking at the event, fellow campaigner Deirdre Duff also emphasised the group’s hopes that their campaign will grow nationally, stating that the Irish government’s own portfolio contains “€72 million invested in fossil fuel companies”.

As of June 30th last year, Trinity had €6.1 million indirectly invested in oil-related stocks through its investment in funds managed by Irish Life Investment Managers, an asset-management group. This figure equates to 3.5 per cent of the total value of Trinity’s €170 million endowment fund.

In March, Fossil Free TCD presented a case for divestment at a meeting of the College Finance Committee, and in the same month published an open letter calling on Trinity to divest from fossil fuels, which was signed by more than 80 public figures, including 27 Trinity professors and world-famous linguist Noam Chomsky, which was also formally presented to the College Board.

Last October, after a freedom of information request obtained by The University Times revealed the scale of the Trinity’s investment in fossil fuels, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council voted to support the divestment campaign, while in April the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) also voted to mandate the union to support the campaign.

In an interview with The University Times in September, the Provost, Patrick Prendergast, described the “fierce pressure” the group have put the college’s senior management under to divest from fossil fuels.

This weekend, Fossil Free TCD are involved in organising the All-Ireland Student Activist Weekend. Reflecting on similar existing organisations in the UK, Chair of Environmental Society, Cillian Crosson, who is also a member of the campaign, said: “The aim is to set up a student activist network across Ireland”.

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