Katie Ascough speaking at the count after being elected.
PRO-LIFE advocate Katie Ascough has been elected president of the UCD Students’ Union. Ascough collected 36% of first preference votes, and collected 1431 number of votes overall. She was elected without reaching the quota of 1619.
Speaking after her win, Ascough said she was “very honoured, really proud of my team and just really looking forward to the next year”. Ascough also noted that she was “proud of UCD students for realising that we are a diverse group of students…there are loads of different issues where we disagree and that’s perfectly healthy.”
The UCDSU has a pro-choice mandate, following an abortion/neutrality referendum last November. Ascough supported and worked on the defeated Yes4Neutrality side of the referendum, which collected 34% of the vote at the time.
However Ascough noted that “they put the person first, the person that they thought, that they believed will do the best job as UCDSU president,” and that her election would not stop UCDSU from continuing the work that it does.
Ascough has made a number of public appearances based on her pro-life stance on outlets such as RTÉ News, and the Irish Times. Ascough writes a column entitled “The Youth Forum” in Alive! magazine, a monthly Catholic magazine and is the daughter of Tom Ascough, who sits on the Iona Institute board of directors.
Ascough stated that she would be “communicating with her team” on whether or not she would campaign to save the 8th, if a referendum was to be held during her time as President. Though she did note that “wherever my position as official spokesperson of the union, I can say that in line with that and in line with what we communicate, I will not be crossing the line and doing stuff that is going to compromise my relationship with the SU team or my role as President.”
Ascough won the vote ahead of three other candidates: Rónán Bartley, who won 19% of first preference votes, Rebecca Hart who won 20%, and Philip Weldon with 23%.
This comes the day after the strong turnout for the #Strike4Repeal rally on campus, with hundreds of students taking part in the rally around the UCD lake, before joining up with the Repeal protests in the city centre.
Speaking to the Irish Times last year on the issue of Repeal last year, Ascough stated that “I think there is an imbalance. I am in UCD and the students union there is very much in your face pro-choice. That is very unfair to the students who are pro-life.”
She continued, “the students’ union in Trinity has said its number one priority is to have the eighth amendment repealed. That is not fair to the students who are pro-life or to those who are undecided on the issue.”
Ascough did not mention her view on abortion on her election manifesto, and when speaking to the Observer last month, she felt that it wasn’t an issue and stated that she would “delegate” the Repeal campaigning to the C&C and Welfare officers.
Words by Martin Healy and Roisin Guyett-Nicholson.