In Letter, Clare McCarthy Challenges Trinity Publications Vote
Clare McCarthy has challenged the legitimacy of last week’s vote to remove her as Chair of Trinity Publications, in a letter sent to the committee this evening.
The letter, obtained by The University Times, challenges the process behind the decision to remove her from her position as chair.
The motion of no confidence in McCarthy followed a drawn-out dispute over the accounts of one the publications, SUAS Magazine, formerly known as STAND. McCarthy, in her letter to Trinity Publications, said that then-Secretary and current Chair Sorcha Ní Cheallaigh was the first committee member who “raised a concern” about the accounts, claiming that it “might not yet have paid the printers for its last issue”, which was published in March 2017.
Investigating the accounts, McCarthy and the Treasurer of Trinity Publications, Carla King-Molina, sent emails to SUAS Magazine “asking them to clarify the position in relation to the payment of printer’s account”. “Neither email threatened to rescind/revoke the grant as sanctioned, though both emails made clear the grant would not be paid until the issue was clarified”, said McCarthy.
The Editor of SUAS Magazine, Niamh Lynch, did not reply to either of these emails for “a four-day period”, according to McCarthy.
McCarthy said that Lynch then responded to King-Molina disputing that there were any problems with the accounts.
Lynch, who is also the Amenities Officer of Trinity Publications and the Deputy Editor for Trinity News, wrote an email to Ní Cheallaigh “on behalf of the Suas Trinity Committee… lodging what was described as a formal complaint”.
Responding to the complaint in a meeting of the Trinity Publications executive, “it was agreed that a draft response would be prepared”, while Ní Cheallaigh would “conduct an investigation into the matter of the complaint”.
“I was not consulted during this investigation”, McCarthy writes.
According to McCarthy, Ní Cheallaigh concluded that “there was no debt in Suas’ accounts at the time of the relevant meeting of 2nd November last when the issue was first raised by her”.
McCarthy, however, in her letter, questioned this conclusion: “A receipt from the printers, dated 14 November 2017 was circulated and it has been confirmed to me by the printers that they received payment on 16th November 2017.” This was between three and five days after Lynch sent the email saying that “the bill was paid weeks ago and SUAS was never in debt” that the magazine had paid the bill, McCarthy wrote.
“I am not aware whether the Secretary, in conducting her investigation, sought from SUAS Magazine a confirmation from the printers regarding when their payment had been made” said McCarthy.
In her letter, McCarthy states: “The draft response to Suas Trinity’s formal complaint was presented to me on Thursday 16th November. The draft contained numerous inaccuracies, which would have been damaging to me and to Trinity Publications. Having felt uncomfortable and isolated, and having considered the recent hostility toward me by members of the Executive committee, I sought out a legal advisor on the issue, and they corroborated my view that the draft reply should not be sent.”
Much of McCarthy’s letter offers a direct challenge to the some of the details set out in an article by Trinity News following the vote to remove her as Chair. It also strongly rebukes some of the claims made against her.
Trinity News reported after McCarthy’s removal that one committee member, Rory O’Sullivan, resigned as Alumni Officer in response to a threat of legal action from McCarthy.
In her letter, McCarthy states: “I told my committee that I had received this legal advice and I asked my committee not to send such an inaccurate and damaging response. I did not threaten legal action against anyone, despite claims to the contrary.”
McCarthy challenges the constitutionality of her removal as Chair of Trinity Publications. A motion of no confidence, she says, may be proposed following a “specific procedure ‘as best practice in order to avoid an unfair dismissal’”.
“This procedure requires, first, a written warning with an opportunity for appropriate explanation and improvement. Only after this can a no-confidence motion be placed on the agenda for a meeting of the Publications Committee with five days’ notice, and the person concerned must be afforded an opportunity to present their case to the Publications Committee before a vote is taken”, she writes.
In her case, McCarthy states, only two days notice were given. “There is no provision in the Constitution for any deviation from the mandatory requirements laid out in the Constitution”, she says.
Under the constitution of Trinity Publications, a motion of no confidence can be raised, and a specific protocol is laid out as “best practice”, which includes giving a minimum of five days notice. McCarthy claims that despite this, she received notice of the emergency meeting where the motion of no confidence would be brought up, which took place on Wednesday November 22nd, just two days before, on Monday November 20th.
“I have always sought to discharge my duties as chair of Trinity Publications to the best of my ability, treating my colleagues and others fairly and with respect. I am deeply disappointed at the way in which this matter has been handled, but I continue to wish Trinity Publications and its associate publications well for the future”, McCarthy said.