Comment & Analysis
Feb 16, 2020

DUCAC’s Hidden Minutes Show a Body Failing to Reckon With its Recent Past

For one reason or another, DUCAC isn't willing to release minutes of meetings from the tenure of former Chair Donagh McDonagh.

Léigh as Gaeilge an t-Eagarfhocal (Read Editorial in Irish) »
By The Editorial Board

What is Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC) hiding? That will surely have been the question on students’ lips this week, after this newspaper reported that the body is still refusing to release minutes of executive committee meetings stretching back years.

On the face of it, it’s hardly surprising that DUCAC has declined to hand over the minutes – the body has long shown remarkable commitment to keeping its activities a secret from the students who pay for them.

In September, though, DUCAC’s members voted (albeit narrowly) for change – opting to “create a more transparent DUCAC” by ousting Donagh McDonagh and instating Jemil Saidi, the first student chair in the organisation’s 100-year history.


Under McDonagh, DUCAC consistently failed to stick to its constitution, and often seemed personally affronted by any efforts to hold it accountable. (McDonagh even attempted, in clear contravention of the constitution he helped write, to deny student newspapers access to last September’s AGM.)

Those who voted for Saidi, then, did so out of a desire to see a different kind of DUCAC – one that wasn’t so studiously opposed to being open about its internal processes.

But in Trinity, it often seems that the more things change, the more they stay suffocatingly the same. And for one reason or another, the meetings that took place during McDonagh’s reign seem a no-go area as far as DUCAC is concerned.

Saidi said this week that releasing the minutes from an era he didn’t steward is not within his remit, and argued he is only one person on a 24-person executive committee. He also made the reasonable point that DUCAC is taking steps in the right direction, after its committee agreed to release records of meetings going forward.

But these minutes have by now taken on a symbolic value: they’re an emblem of DUCAC’s enduring opacity, and a sign that the body is still not taking real steps to reckon with its past – a vital process for a better future.

For a body that received €350,000 in student funding last year, it’s not really good enough.