'Occupy the Quad' protest ends on health and safety grounds 

'Occupy the Quad' protest ends on health and safety grounds 
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

UCC Students’ Union have ended their ‘Occupy the Quad’ protest “with a heavy heart” for health and safety reasons associated with the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland.

The protest, which was entering day 17, was being held in response to the 3% increase in rents for on-campus student accommodation for the upcoming academic year.

This totals a 19% increase over a three year period.

However, in a statement, UCCSU President Ben Dunlea has said they had been monitoring the situation alongside the Head of Student Health Dr Michael Byrne.

Mr Dunlea said that given the Taoiseach’s announcement of the closure of colleges, and the World Health Organisations classification of the disease as a pandemic, they have taken the decision to end the protest.

“We’ve made the decision, for health and safety reasons, to halt our occupation of the Quad until further notice," he said. 

“Whilst the occupation may not continue, the mediation process we have entered with UCC Campus Accommodation will." 

Mr Dunlea goes on to say that they “must fail in their promise” to continue the protest until the increase was reversed and a rent freeze implemented.

“We are entering a period of uncertainty and we must prioritize the health and safety of our fellow students and the community.

“While there may no longer be the visible opposition to this increase in the Quad, know that the Students’ Unions opposition to this decision remains unwavering and we shall continue to fight against this increase in the mediation process.”

The statement concludes by asking students to too look after each other in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, and to heed official warnings and advice from the HSE and UCC.

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