Three students who attempted to egg Taoiseach Enda Kenny during his visit to UCD have avoided expulsion from the college.
Suzanne Lee (23), from Belfast, Ben McCormack (24), from Chichester, England and Aidan Rowe (22), from Co. Mayo all avoided expulsion and instead were given a formal reprimand and a suspended fine, following a disciplinary hearing at the university.
The trio, who claim they were protesting over fees and cuts to student grants, failed in their attempt to egg the Taoiseach while he was in UCD to open the new Centre and Sports Complex on November 29th last year. Instead Dr Martin Butler, Vice President for Students at UCD, was caught in the crossfire and became the unintentional victim of the egging.
Dr Butler, who is a member of the disciplinary committee, did not attend the disciplinary hearing to ensure impartiality.
The hearing lasted about an hour and the students emerged to express their relief at the decision. Rowe regarded the outcome as a victory for both himself and “the right of students to protest on campus”.
The students said they would happily apologise to their Vice President but are standing by their “legitimate protest” reiterating yet again that the Taoiseach was their intended target and that the egging of Butler was unintentional.
Lee claimed that there was no “violent intent”. She said: “I knew there were risks going along with it; that we could be arrested and the college could put us trough some disciplinary action. If it wasn’t well thought through, I might regret it but I knew what was going on at the time and I stand by that.”
Ben McCormack says he was “relieved” he could put this behind them but is adamant that they will continue to fight against rising fees for third-level education.