The Electoral Commission issued sanctions today against the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) group, the Students United Against SU Opt Out group, and the Vote Yes to Optional Membership group.
The Electoral Commission confiscated all physical campaign materials from the BDS group from lunchtime today until campaigning resumes tomorrow morning. In a statement to Trinity News, Sean Egan a member of the campaign group said the strike was due to “confusion about how [the group] financed [their] campaign materials” and that “things are completely above board.”
The Electoral Commission also sanctioned Students United Against SU Opt Out group by making the campaign’s Facebook page inactive between 1-2pm today.
In a statement to Trinity News, Jack Dolan a member of the group said that “[t]wo unaffiliated students posted about the campaign into a group chat and a group.” He said that neither student is “involved with the campaign in any capacity” and that they “acted individually.”
The Vote Yes to Optional Membership group were banned from online campaigning from lunchtime today until 9pm tonight. In a statement to Trinity News, Harry Humes a member of the group said that Trinity Young Fine Gael (YFG) printed and handed out flyers urging students to vote yes in the referendum to allow students to opt-out of the students’ union.
Humes said the group were “unaware that [Trinity Young Fine Gael] were distributing such flyers” and that they “had no contact with them pertaining to this issue”. He said he thought it was an “unsympathetic punishment given that the actions of members of YFG are outside the jurisdiction Of the Opt Out campaign.” He continued: “Moreover, the case simply concerned the youth wing of a political party taking a political stance, which is quite expected.”
In a statement to Trinity News, chair Daire Lawlor said: “Trinity YFG organised a campaign independent of the SU Opt Out Project today to campaign in favour of a yes vote in this referendum.” Lawlor said that members of Trinity YFG were “very passionate” about the issue and that they were “unaware that the electoral commission rules applied to us as an unofficial campaigning entity in the referendum.”
Lawlor said Trinity YFG were “disappointed” that the Electoral Commission’s rules “do not allow youth political parties on campus to campaign on referenda related to Trinity student issues such as this.” Lawlor continued: “We would like to apologise to the SU Opt Out Project for any inconvenience caused by our campaigning today and we would like to wish them all the best with the remainder of their campaign.”
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) will vote on two referendums this week. Firstly, on whether TCDSU should adopt a long term policy on Palestine and in support of BDS, and secondly, whether to introduce a constitutional provision to allow students to leave TCDSU.
Voting opens at 11am on Wednesday in the Arts Building and the Hamilton, and at 12pm in St. James’s.
Additional reporting by Niamh Lynch