Belfast Telegraph

Fossil fuel protest heats up at Queen University as student sit-in reaches fourth day

By Rebecca Black

A rally has been staged at Queen's University Belfast after a student sit-in reached its fourth day - but officials have insisted it is "business as usual" at the institution.

A group of an estimated 15 students spent the weekend occupying part of the university building.

The Fossil Free QUB movement began earlier this year in protest at the university's investment in a number of fuel companies.

Campaigning students have occupied a floor of the university's administration building, and say they will do so "indefinitely".

A number of university staff have had to be moved from their offices on the finance floor due to the sit-in.

Participant Bradley Allsop said the protesters wanted Queen's to freeze all new investments in fossil fuels and publicly commit to divesting from the fossil fuel companies they are already invested in by 2020.

He described the campaigners as "highly motivated, passionate and capable individuals", and said they "will not rest until our university submits to the overwhelming call for morality and sense coming from its stakeholders.

"We have had political debates, film screenings, musical sessions and a culture of sharing amongst ourselves what little we have," Mr Allsop said.

"Not only has this group taught me much about activism, but a considerable amount about what I'd like our wider society to look like."

Yesterday morning, Sinn Fein, Green Party and People Before Profit politicians joined students for a rally at the front of the university in support of the sit-in.

A spokeswoman for Queen's University responded to the students' demands, saying the investment policy was already under a review agreed in October.

"At its meeting on October 14 2015, the university's Investment Committee agreed to carry out a comprehensive review of its investment policy," the spokeswoman said.

"The review is expected to take six to nine months and will be informed by best practice in the area of socially responsible investment'.

"As part of this review, the university has engaged directly with students from Fossil Free QUB.

"To help inform the investment policy review, a workshop will be held in early January 2016 for investment committee members, senior management and representatives from Fossil Free QUB.

"The university very much looks forward to constructive engagement on the issue of socially responsible investment."

There was controversy over the weekend, with some of the sit-in participants claiming that they were being denied deliveries of food.

The spokeswoman for Queen's clarified that the students have access to a bathroom, kitchen, power, light, wi-fi and one food delivery per day from Students' Union officers, as well as any other essential items they require, such as medication.

"It is business as usual at the university this morning, although a small number of staff on the finance floor have been relocated," she said.

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