USI pass emergency motion to support the Take Back the City protest

The motion was tabled by TCDSU

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has passed a motion this evening to support the Take Back the City protests taking place tomorrow. The motion was passed at National Council, with the support of various students’ unions, including Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU). National Council was held in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Bolton Street.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) brought forward the motion which stated: “USI to actively and publicly support the National Day of Action on Saturday September 22”. TCDSU President Shane De Rís called for all students’ unions to get involved, and also spoke about housing activist and Trinity student Conchúir Ó Ráidigh, who was injured by Gardaí during the North Frederick Street occupation eviction two weeks ago.

Ó’Ráidigh spoke to National Council, and noted that the movement “presents itself as a way for students to put their stamp on how the housing crisis is tackled and solved”. He also gave a brief account of what he called an “assault” during the North Frederick Street occupation. He said that this was something “lasting”, and that we are “going to be affected for the rest of our lives”.

According to Ó’Ráidigh, the event has 15,000 attendees on Facebook, and is expecting “a great turnout” tomorrow. He concluded by urging representatives to support the motion.

The motion saw no opposition, and also heard from the USI Vice President for Campaigns, Michelle Byrne, who noted that there would be various protests outside luxury student accommodation complexes tomorrow.

President of Trinity Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) Oisín Vince Coulter, also called on people to engage in “civil disobedience” and encouraged people to fight “for what we believe is right”. He called for the student movement to be “at the heart of this action”.

In a statement to Trinity News, Vince Coulter, who is also a spokesperson for Take Back the City, said: “I welcome the decision by National Council to support the National Day of Action. Clearly, the appetite is there for major and decisive action to follow the housing crisis. The student movement has been on the right side of history for all the major social issues of the last 50 years. The time has come for the student movement to lead the way on the biggest social issue facing this country today.”

A representative from TCDSU or USI was not available for comment at the time of publication.

The council also heard from Dr Rory Hearne, of Maynooth University. Hearne gave a talk on the affordability of student housing, and the housing crisis. His main point was that when looking at all purpose built accommodation in the state in the future, “all of that will be unaffordable”.

The council also proposed a motion on the separation of the church and state. The motion was supported by TCDSU, and also received no opposition. USI President Síona Cahill also noted that it was unbelievable that “there is not already a separation of church and state”.

Peter Kelly

Peter Kelly is a current Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. He is a Senior Fresh Law student, and a former Senior Reporter.