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Ní Riada urges UCC to defend tradition of debate

24 January, 2017 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has expressed her concern at the decision by UCC University Management to prevent an academic conference debating the legitimacy of the state of Israel from taking place on campus.

The conference, entitled International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism, was due to take place at UCC from March 31st to April 2nd, and would have featured speakers from all sides of the debate.

"I am deeply concerned at a university taking what appears to be steps to stamp out discussion and debate," she said.

"The UCC University Management Team have given very odd reasons for preventing this event from taking place.  All the more odd when you consider that this event was previously banned from a university campus in England after a high profile campaign from pro-Israel lobbyists and just last week more than dozen Irish academics published an open letter expressing their concerns that the Israeli embassy was trying to prevent University College Cork from hosting the conference.

"Universities are supposed to be places of learning where people challenge their own preconceptions as much as the preconceptions of others.  We have an outstanding network of universities across Ireland and UCC is a particular source of pride for this part of the country having recently been named the Sunday Times University of the Year, so it is particularly concerning to see that legacy of fearlessly tackling challenging and controversial issues being lost.

"I sincerely hope UCC will reconsider their approach to this event and retain their long standing reputation for courageously examining complex subjects free from outside interference."

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