TCDSU and USI condemn Discord leak

“This isn’t a once-off incident, it will remain a systemic problem until we see legal protections for those affected.”

This evening, both the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Trinity College Dublin’s Students’ Union (TCDSU) have condemned the Discord leak which has occurred over the last few days. 

The leak, which has occurred over the last several days, has affected thousands of Irish women and young girls, who have had sexual images leaked online without their consent.

The images, some of which are of underage girls, were shared on private online forums. 

TCDSU Welfare Officer Leah Keogh spoke to Trinity News condemning the act, stating the union are “both aware of and disgusted” by the online-image based sexual violence (IBSV) that has occurred in the past 72 hours.

Keogh continued: “As Welfare and Equality Officer of the Union, I outrightly condemn the viewing or sharing of said media and do not condone victim-blaming in any way. This is a flagrant violation of privacy and unequivocally non-consensual.”

“I would like to urge anyone affected to reach out and seek support, you are not alone,” she added. 

It is understood that thousands of Irish women have been affected by the leak, with photos from various apps like Snapchat and Tinder being posted on forums without the women’s consent. 

Speaking to Trinity News, Philly Holmes, Communications and Marketing Officer in TCDSU, echoed Keogh’s sentiments, urging students that “the SU are here if you need to reach out”. 

Holmes added that “the DMs are open” and he’ll be “keeping an eye” on the TCDSU social media channels throughout the weekend to make sure that he can “offer support to those affected in any way I can”.

Holmes continued: “Now is the time to support those victims who are choosing to be vocal on the issue and boost their voices where appropriate, but also we have to respect the victims who are choosing to deal with the issue privately.”

“I also urge everyone to recognise the depth of the issues present and the lack of legal protections available to those worst affected,” Holmes went on. “So many people have been complicit in sharing these images, and so many more have been silently complicit in allowing this treatment of women to become normalised.”

“This isn’t a once-off incident, it will remain a systemic problem until we see legal protections for those affected.”

USI have also condemned the leak, “encouraging the victims involved to use the range of services available if needed at this time or in future”.

USI is calling for legislation to make image-based sexual abuse illegal, to be implemented immediately to protect individuals from such future incidents of non-consensual sharing and publication. 

An internet petition is currently circulating online, calling for the government to immediately pass legislation to stop “revenge porn” in Ireland since the incident occurred. 

It now has close to 38,000 signatures.

The union is “demanding a commitment from government to tackle this issue”, which has left “many people vulnerable and damaged as a result”.

“However, legislation is only part of what is needed to tackle this issue; there must be a cultural shift too,” the union continued. “Victim blaming, shaming and the use of degrading language and ‘slut-shaming’ must stop.”

“Consent extends to the sharing of images and conversations, as well as physical intimacy. USI will continue to work and campaign with others to embed the importance of consent across our society.”

CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell, has said the leak is “shocking”.

Anyone affected by this incident has been urged by TCDSU to contact the Welfare and Equality Officer Leah Keogh, the Student Counseling Service or the TCDSU Welfare Directory.

Persons affected can also contact Women’s Aid on 1800 341 900, Men’s Aid on 01 554 3811 or the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 77 8888.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.