UCD SU President Will Not Attend March for Choice

 
 

UCD Students’ Union plans to take part in the upcoming March for Choice
without the participation of President Katie Ascough. The march will take place
on Saturday September 30 th , starting from the Garden of Remembrance at
1:30pm.
Something that may have a significant effect on the campaign is that UCDSU’s
president, Katie Ascough, will not be attending the March for Choice. When asked
on the issue she told the University Observer, “The march is on a Saturday, it’s not
working hours and I think that we are very comprehensively represented at the
march and so I won’t be there.”

Ascough is pro-life and has previously attended public pro-life events. When
attending a pro-life protest on Grafton Street in October of last year, on the same
day as the March for Choice, she told the Irish Times that “I am in UCD and the
Students’ Union there is very much in your face pro-choice.” She described this
as “very unfair to the students who are pro-life.” Ascough also attended the Rally
for Life in July of this year, following her election in March.

Last November a referendum on whether or not UCDSU should take a neutral
stance on abortion failed, with 64% of students voting to support campaigns to
repeal the 8 th amendment. The Students’ Union also made a submission to the
Citizen’s Assembly last year stating that “on behalf of its membership, UCD
Students’ Union advocates for comprehensive reproductive health services in
Ireland including the provision of safe and legal abortion for people that choose
it.”

When asked by the University Observer if she had any plans to attend a counter
protest to the March for Choice this year she replied “absolutely not.”
Speaking on UCDSU’s plans to attend, Barry Murphy, the Campaigns &
Communications Officer, said “I have met with UCD for Choice several times.
We’re doing videos, we’re holding placard and poster-making workshops on the
27th, 28th in the [Student Centre] atrium.”

Ascough stated that her role in the lead up to the march “is facilitating, making
sure that the budget is there, that everything is in place and just letting Barry
really take lead.” In the run up to union elections last year, Ascough promised
that she would deal with the issue by “communicating and delegating.”

Murphy said “ideally it would be great if she was [there]. I respect her views, and
I respected her during the campaign, she said she would delegate”.

But UCDSU will march without Ascough, all other sabbatical officers and several
SU staff will be present at the march. According to Murphy “The march is on the
30th. We’re doing a breakfast in town. We will organise a point to meet here in
UCD and a point to meet in town, for the breakfast and before the march.”

He added that the SU will be getting a new banner and new t-shirts designed and
plan to do something similar to the “Vote for ME” campaign, which was run for
marriage equality. “I’ll be going to society stands with Snapchat and Instagram
stories, talking to people asking ‘why are you going to the march?’”

He also highlighted a slight change in direction for the campaign turning away
from the starkness of the Strike 4 Repeal. “UCD for choice wants to expand what
they’re doing to the less passionate students, who’ll vote pro-choice but won’t go
to the march. We’re trying to make it more relatable to get them more involved
with the campaign. The colours are changing to be friendlier. [The] pro-choice
movement has come across as aggressive and to be more accessible we are going
to move to [be]more friendly [and] happy.”

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