Students considering legal action over SU pro-choice mandate

The action concerns an SU vote on the issue in February 2014

NEWSA group of Trinity students have consulted with solicitors about taking legal action against the pro-choice mandate of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU).

Speaking to Trinity News, Gavin Rothwell, one of the students concerned, said: “A number of students are currently exploring our legal options regarding how the Students’ Union operates (regarding) the automatic membership of every college student of the SU, and how there seems to be an obligation to pay a levy of €8 annually. This raises genuine legal and constitutional issues of all students’ right to freedom of expression, association (and) disassociation, freedom of conscience and property rights.”

Represented by Cormac O’Ceallaigh & Co. solicitors, the group has not commenced legal proceedings but “have begun to engage with relevant parties to receive clarification on the issues.”

The move follows threats from other students to leave the SU last year. In emails seen by Trinity News, junior sophister Classics student Will Dillon requested in January that then SU President Lynn Ruane allow him resign from the SU, of which all students are compulsory members. In the correspondence with Ruane, Dillon attributed his request to “the lack of effectiveness from part of the Union in representing all views, including mine, on campus.” At the time, Ruane said that she was not in a position to remove Dillon from the SU.

Remarking on this matter, current SU President Kieran McNulty said: “No students have expressed their dissatisfaction to me.”

In February 2014, 73% of Trinity students voted in favour of the SU’s proposal to adopt a pro-choice mandate on the issue of abortion. This resulted in the SU calling for a “full repeal” of the Eighth Amendment, which equates the life of the mother to that of the unborn child.

The SU campaigned to Repeal the Eighth Amendment during Ruane’s presidency, while McNulty confirmed that supporting the Repeal campaign will be a priority during his presidency. During Freshers’ Week, the SU are organising a ‘Rallying Call for Repeal’ on the Dining Hall steps.

McNulty commented on the situation: “I’m always happy to talk to students with other views or who are unsure of their stance. I realise not all students are in favour but we have to take action on the mandate, which passed profoundly. We are creating conversation on something that there is going to be a convention on and eventually a referendum on.”

Niamh Lynch

Niamh was Editor of the 65th volume of Trinity News. She is a History and Politics graduate.