The Trinity College branch of the Labour Party is named after Dr David Thornley, an English-born TD who sat in the Dáil for the Dublin north-west constituency from 1969-77, when he lost his seat.*
Thornley was an outspoken deputy and was the subject of vast criticism in December 1972 when he visited Seán MacStiofáin, then Provisional IRA chief-of-staff, in the Mater hospital. Thornley stated that he knew such a visit would earn him the sneers of a ‘gentle, kindly, indolent Taoiseach’ and taunts of ‘Provo supporter’. Thornley stated that he was in support of the peaceful re-integration of the northern state.
In 1976, the coalition government banned a planned Provisional Easter parade in Dublin city. Threats were made that any civil servant who attended the march would lose their jobs and any pension contributions. The parade went ahead anyway – the Irish Independent reported a turnout of 10,000 – and deputy Thornley sat on the principal viewing platform along with leading Provisionals.
As a result of this, the deputy was deprived of the party whip. He was also subject to a £10 fine, which he declared he would not pay. Thornley’s basis for attending the parade so prominently was to challenge the government – his own party included – on their bullying policies.
He died at the relatively young age of 42 in 1978. Dr Thornley had held senior positions within Trinity College prior to his political career, which might justify the Labour branch in the university naming itself after him. However, aside from his unorthodox attitudes towards the Provisional IRA, there is also this:
Any Trinity students/alumni able to shed light on this..?Thornley was so committed to Browne throughout his life, going so far as to follow him into the Socialist Labour Party following his departure from the Labour Party, a point not mentioned in the book.
A rebel without a political platform - Books, Entertainment - Independent.ie
*page 5 ‘Labour Youth branch reports'