Trinity lecturer and barrister denies jibe at Muslim student
A law lecturer, whose first class in Trinity College Dublin ended in controversy and is under investigation by the college, insists that it was a case of "crossed wires".
Comments made by barrister Brendan Guildea during an introductory intellectual property law lecture were called into question by students.
Trinity's student newspaper 'University Times' quoted a student as alleging certain comments made by Mr Guildea represented a "very clear and targeted jibe" towards a Muslim student.
A second class due to take place last Friday was postponed. Neither Trinity nor Mr Guildea would comment on the future status of his classes.
Trinity said the university was continuing to investigate the matter and was currently examining its options.
The barrister told the Irish Independent: "I don't want to comment on anything if there is a process. I am new to the college and don't know how it works"
Mr Guildea said that, in the course of the lecture, he was seeking to know what the students understood about intellectual property law.
It included discussion around certain items, one of which was a cable for an iPhone, proffered by a lady wearing a headscarf who, when he asked where she got it, she replied "Afghanistan". According to 'University Times', the student was born in Dublin.
Mr Guildea said in the context of intellectual property law, the fact that the cable crossed international borders was significant. A point he was making was that "importing and exporting is an issue". He said he "wasn't making any political point".
He said he later held up an Irish legal text and asked could anyone identify the book: "Loads of people recognised it but because there were Erasmus students there, I didn't want to put pressure on them. I told them I didn't expect them to get it right if they were not from Ireland."
He said he could "not have been standing further from the students when he was asking these questions" and that "no reasonable person could interpret that as my making a jibe at this young lady", who was "on the opposite side of the room". Mr Guildea said he lectured in Griffith College, Dublin, and had given lectures for the Law Society, and was "well used to talking to diverse groups of students".