For those of you who have been living under a rock all weekend, Fossil Free QUB have been staging a sit in at the Queen’s University Administration Building in protest of the University ignoring their repeated calls to divest in fossil fuels.
Fossil Free QUB is a group of Queen’s students, staff and alumni, who, according to their blog, are “committed to encouraging the University to withdraw their investments entirely from fossil fuel corporations”, including the likes of BP, who were found “grossly negligent” after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The group formed at the beginning of this year and have received support from the Student’s Union and the wider student body alike.
After submitting a report to the QUB Senate in October past, the group was told that the University would look into divestment in fossil fuels, but that the review period would last nine months and no divestment was guaranteed or promised. After receiving no response to their repeated calls for action, the group took extreme action.
— Fossil Free QUB (@FossilFreeQUB) December 11, 2015
The Scoop reporter and Queen’s Radio Head of News, Paul Wyatt caught up with Fossil Free QUB founder, and VP Campaigns and Communications, Sean Fearon to find out more.
— Paul Wyatt (@PaulWyatt94) December 11, 2015
On the second day of the protest, reports emerged that supplies such as food, and other necessities were prevented from being delivered to the protesters and it was later claimed that decision was taken by University Senior Management and not building security. However, on Day 3, it emerged that one box of supplies per day would be allowed into the building, delivered via Queen’s Student’s Union President Caoimhe McNeill.
Despite the outpouring of support from students, alumni and local politicians, the movement has come under fire from members of the public, who criticised the decision to protest at Friday’s graduation ceremony. Criticism has been drowned out however, by the endorsements from Deputy Leader of the Green Party, Claire Bailey and former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Niall Ó’Donnghaile alongside the regional reports by the BBC, Irish News, and Belfast Telegraph. SU President Caoimhe McNeill had the following to say: “It’s incredibly courageous and inspiring that our students and SU Officers have entered into this element of the campaign to call on Queen’s to divest from Fossil Fuels by 2020. Climate Change is a social injustice and it is so important that we all start to take this fight seriously. We cannot stand by and watch our planet disappear nation by nation. I fully stand by and commend the students in this campaign who are fighting for the future of our planet! Queen’s has the opportunity to lead on divestment in Ireland and I hope they see the importance of divestment and commit to divest from Fossil Fuels by 2020.”
A Queen’s University spokesman said that Management is engaging with the group, and that the “investment committee has agreed to carry out a comprehensive review of its investment policy…expected to take six to nine months.”
At the time of writing, Day 3 of the occupation is coming to a close. How long will this protest carry on? The group have vowed to remain in the building “indefinitely” but with only two weeks to Christmas, it will be interesting to see just how far they are willing to go.
A solidarity demonstration will take place today, Monday 14th December at 11am in the quad where many students and others are expected to turn out to show their support.
You can follow the occupation on Twitter @FossilFreeQUB and through the hashtag #occupyQUB
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