Trinity College, Dublin Students’ Union’s Repeal the 8th Campaign for 2016/17 will be used as a model for the Union of Students Ireland, Students4Choice Campaign in 2017/18.
Following a meeting held last Tuesday, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Vice President for equality and citizenship Síona Cahill, decided to incorporate Trinity’s model for the USI Students for Choice Campaign in 2017/2018.
The USI will be delegating a campus ambassador and a committee to advocate a repeal of the 8th Amendment. Each college will also have a committee of students to represent the Repeal Campaign. In Trinity, Kevin Keane, President of Trinity Students Union (TCDSU) is the Chair of the Repeal Committee and Úna Harty, TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer, is the Deputy Chair.
The equality officer of the JCR will also be a part of the committee. Following 63 applications made to the TCD committee, ten candidates will be chosen to be apart of the 2017/2018 committee in Trinity.
Speaking to Trinity News about the initiative, Kevin Keane said: “the Repeal campaign needs to be as coordinated as possible to be successful. The more pooling of ideas and cooperation between TCDSU, USI and any individual institution, the better”. “The student movement is going to be central to Repealing the 8th, and so it makes perfect sense for us to work together, to build one organised and efficient voice that will make a real difference in the campaign.”
Keane also added that the SU “fully intend to escalate our activity in the coming year and look forward to working with the USI”.
USI Vice President for equality and citizenship, Síona Cahill told Trinity News, that the “USI did a full review of the work done by colleges in preparing to rally students to repeal the 8th” and that “TCDSU outlined the model working on TCD campus and how that was progressing, and we took from TCD’s experience as well as others to put together guidelines and ideas for our members around the country.”
“We want this campaign to be one that works across groups from various student communities and organisations, as this is something that affects a huge proportion of our student population in Ireland and as a human rights issue, we want to work collaboratively and creatively towards a successful repeal of the 8th amendment.”
Cahill also added, that the main focus for Students4Choice will be on “a massive voter registration drive leading to the National Voter Registration day in November this year.”
In February 2014, 73% of Trinity students voted for TCDSU to adopt a pro-choice mandate and actively campaign for access to safe and legal abortions for women in Ireland. Since then, Trinity’s repeal campaign has seen various successes this year from the March for choice, Strike for Repeal and the Lobby group’s efforts.The campaign used social media throughout 2016/2017 and held a number of collaborative events including an event with Choicebox, an independently organized spoken word, poetry and musical event that raises money for the Abortion Rights Campaign.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the government was planning a referendum for 2018 and has pledged to take student concerns about the timing of referendum into account when setting a date for the vote.
Additional reporting by Sarah Meehan and Seana Davis.