Young Fine Gael (YFG) has passed a motion to lobby for the opting out of third level students’ unions. The motion was passed at YFG’s Garret Fitzgerald Summer School in Bundoran yesterday.
The motion passed stated: “Young Fine Gael calls for students at third level to have the freedom to opt out of their Student Union, in line with our Constitution which allows for freedom of association.” The motion was proposed by the Kerry branch of YFG at the summer school, which saw a similar motion proposed by Trinity’s YFG.
Speaking to Trinity News, Chairperson of Trinity Young Fine Gael, Liam Byrne, expressed his satisfaction at the outcome, saying: “Trinity Young Fine Gael was very proud to propose the motion of allowing students to opt out of Student Unions at the Young Fine Gael, Garret Fitzgerald Summer School in Bundoran on Saturday 21st July”.
He continued: “We were also delighted to see so many of the Trinity YFG branch members arguing in favour of the motion, basing many of their arguments around the constitutional right to freedom of association with organisations. Members also felt that Student Unions often take unrepresentative stances on controversial and divisive political issues and provide union resources towards these causes when these resources would be more effectively utilised by investing further in student services.”
The move follows an SU opt-out referendum carried out in College in March of this year. The referendum saw 2,040 students vote, with 49.96% voting against allowing students to opt out of TCDSU, and 47.59% voting in favour of the constitutional amendment. This referendum saw multiple Trinity YFG committee members involved in the opt out campaign.
Byrne added: “The branch are delighted to carry on the good work which the previous committee had campaigned on.”
He also noted the conflict with this year’s referendum result, saying: “Although we accept the referendum result we do not feel that this is purely about Student Union politics, but this is an issue of broader constitutional rights and therefore this political issue needs to be addressed with a broader political response.”
He also indicated that Young Fine Gael would be working on this issue in the future: “I have also been assured that Young Fine Gael is going to commence a campaign in the near future to allow students to opt out of Student Unions.”