Queen’s University student activist group Fossil Free QUB are currently occupying the finance office at Queens University Belfast, stating that they will not leave until the university publicly commit to divesting from fossil fuels.

14 students walked in and occupied the second floor finance office located in the quadrant of the main university site. Security have had a constant but benign presence since the beginning of the protest. Representatives from the senior management team held a meeting with members of the occupation team, offering to the activists a chance to present their case at Tuesday’s Senate meeting. Fossil Free QUB’s response to this was to highlight that firm pledges were needed from senior management, rather than more bureaucracy.

The action follows several months of escalating protest after failure to secure a pledge from the university on divestment. Divestment has been endorsed by Queen’s Students’ Council, a student-wide referendum and cross-political party support.

The specific demands of the group are:

  1. An immediate freeze to all new investments in fossil fuels on the part of QUB.
  2. A public statement to be released with Fossil Free QUB and Queen’s Students’ Union that commits the university to divestment and a low carbon future.
  3. A timetable to be agreed between Queen’s University and Fossil Free QUB for full divestment by 2020.

Sean Fearon, Vice President of Campaigns and Communications at Queen’s University Students’ Union, said in a statement to Bright Green:

Student activism and direct action has lain in dormancy for too long at Queen’s University Belfast. Fossil Free QUB and our campaign for divestment from fossil fuels at QUB has provided a spark for some much need activism and forced the fight against climate change firmly on the student agenda

Our occupation is the culmination of long and frustrating negotiations with the University who, over a 12 month period, have refused to take action regarding divestment from fossil fuels. We will remain here indefinitely until our conditions are satisfactorily met and the University publicly commits to withdraw its investments from fossil fuel corporations.”

The move has been officially endorsed by the Green Party of Northern Ireland and several of its prominent members. A demonstration outside the building is planned for Monday for those wishing to show solidarity with the group, with more information available here.

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