A group calling themselves ‘UCD Students Against Abortion’ has stated that its members will request to leave UCD Students’ Union if the union does not repeal its current stance on abortion.
This follows on from the abortion preferendum, tadalafil in which students voted to see the union adopt a stance that would legalise abortion in Ireland.
Speaking to the College Tribune, the groups spokesperson Samuel O’Connor said that they will be petitioning UCDSU president Mícheál Gallagher to request that the union retract their current stance. This petition will outline how the groups members feel – that they “are no longer represented by the union” and that it was “beyond the unions power to even conduct such a referendum.”
O’Connor continued by stating that if the union are unwilling to change their stance it will leave the groups members with “no choice” but to seek to withdraw their names from the list of union members.
Every student in Ireland is automatically a member of their universities or institutes of technologies Students’ Union. Speaking to the College Tribune on the matter, UCDSU president Mícheál Gallagher stated that the “disaffiliation of an individual member is an issue that is, to the best of our knowledge, yet to happen in an Irish or British University and therefore has not been tested legally.”
O’Connor pointed to the fact that UCD Students’ Union “want democracy to be enforced in this respect but they don’t want democracy to be enforced in the respect of students and their rights as to whether or not they are members…they also have to respect students democratic rights to no longer want to associate.”
“I’m quite happy for the union to continue in its undemocratic nature so long as concessions, similarly undemocratic concessions to unite people because they don’t rule by decree, they rule by consent and the only reason they’re in power is because the students consent to the union being their representatives and if they want to go along this line of policy there’s going to be a large number of students who no longer consent to be members of the union.”
However, responding to the criticism, UCDSU president Micheál Gallagher, stated that there are many benefits of student union membership, including “an official means of communication between yourself and the university, welfare office and other valuable services. If a student disaffiliated they could in theory lose the right to representation at a plagiarism hearing or access to emergency funds.”
“In reality the University would still expect the Union to represent students on such important issues and as an organisation committed to supporting students UCDSU would not leave students in crisis without a voice.”
If the group is unsuccessful with the petition they have stated that they will be writing to University officials, to ask that their names be removed from the list of union members and that the fees which the university currently place in the union on their behalf be no longer paid.
O’Connor stated that “I’d like to stress that it isn’t a matter of money, I think everyone involved in the campaign would be quite happy for the money which otherwise would have went to the union to be spent on university funds or to be spent on a charity of the universities choice.”
“I don’t want this union to speak for me and I don’t want to have a voice in this union if they are going to pursue this abortionist agenda.”
UCD Life society are also supporting the reasoning behind the petition and speaking to the College Tribune they stated that they do not believe the SU “had any mandate to hold a preferendum on such a divisive issue.” The Life Society also made the point that their members are paying fees “to a Student Union that does not represent us, our views or our morals yet plan to speak on our behalf, as ‘pro-choice’ students.”
UCDSU President Mícheál Gallagher stated that “If students do have a very strong opinion on any matter we encourage them to campaign on the issue at hand and to come to Council to hold the Executive to account and bring motions where they will debated and ultimately passed or defeated.”
“Ultimately, UCDSU is a democracy and we encourage people to get involved and to help shape the SU in the way that they want it. We do not expect all students to agree with every position the Union holds and we again encourage them to hold us to account at Council.”