A controversial conference about Israel is to go ahead in Cork at the end of the month but will be jointly staged at City Hall and University College Cork.
With concerns about potential security issues and disruption to staff and students from threatened protests, UCC managers asked in January for certain conditions to be met before permission could be granted to hold it on the campus.
The dates of March 31 to April 2 were confirmed last month, but the organisers yesterday announced changes to the original arrangements. Cork City Hall will now be the venue for the first two days, with speakers and audience moving to UCC on the third and final day. UCC had faced criticism that the earlier postponement was the result of an attack on academic freedom, after opposition about the proposed subject of papers and the range of speakers described as being predominantly anti-Israeli.
Under the title of ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility’, the organisers say the conference includes pro-Israel speakers such as Professor Geoffrey Alderman of University of Buckingham in Britain.
UCC said its earlier motivation in declining to permit the conference during term time was solely concerned with student and staff safety.
Ahead of taking office on February 1, UCC president Professor Patrick O’Shea said he was open to the event going ahead on campus as long as management concerns were met.
The organisers include a number of UCC staff but the event is not sponsored or promoted by the university.
After informing university management in early February that they proposed to hold the first two days in an off-campus location, discussions continued over the past month about holding the third day of proceedings on campus subject to UCC’s conditions.
Those included the submission of an event-management plan covering all aspects of the conference organisation, and providing a budget to cover any additional costs to the university, including security.
A UCC spokesperson confirmed last night that agreement has been reached and that management are satisfied that their requirements will be met.
The event was originally to have been staged at University of Southampton two years ago, but was cancelled due to security concerns.
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