Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical officers yesterday joined other student unions in a spontaneous counter-demonstration against anti-trans protests taking place outside Leinster House.
During an event convened by the Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) in Buswell’s Hotel on Molesworth Street, attendees became aware of a “homophobic anti-trans protest” taking place on nearby Kildare Street.
According to TCDSU Education Officer Catherine Arnold, protestors were “attempting to gain legitimacy for their arguments by profiting off the increased media attention that was focused on the Dáil” due to the appearance of RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy before the Public Accounts Committee.
Arnold said: “I couldn’t stand for this as a representative for TCDSU and a representative of trans students and so used my voice to chant over the proceedings.”
She said that USI, member unions, and “random members of the public on the street” joined in staging a spontaneous counter-protest in a “true showing of solidarity”.
According to Arnold, the counter-protestors were provided with a megaphone from another group protesting animal cruelty.
She added: “I’m glad to say we were able to undermine the efforts shown and assert as one voice that trans lives matter.”
TCDSU said that “the solidarity shown between fellow attending colleges and the USI in starting up a counter protest reminds us that as representatives of our respective universities we can come together in collective action when the time calls for it”.
It added that it was “hopeful” for further collaboration with other students’ unions in organising “more proactive and direct approaches to voicing our needs for a socio-economic system that works for all of us”.
Students’ unions from across the country were gathered for a “pre-budget lobby day” held by USI at which it discussed and articulated its demands for Budget 2024.
Arnold said that the counter-protest “reverberated into the lobbying day” with trans healthcare and mental health supports high on the agenda alongside student accommodation issues, reducing student fees, and increasing government funding for universities.