University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) is to hold a referendum on whether the union should adopt a stance in favour of Irish unity. The decision came in the same week as a motion was passed at a Council meeting of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) to hold a preferendum on the same issue.
A Facebook post by UCDSU this afternoon said that upwards of 1,000 students signed a petition in favour of the vote. The question to be put to Belfield students on March 7 & 8 will be a straight yes or no, asking “should UCDSU have a pro-unity stance on a united Ireland?”
Another post, from the UCD Sinn Féin society, claimed credit for the move, saying: “we collected over 1000 signatures in little over 8 hours of petitioning.” An event held on February 9 had advertised an “open discussion” on the issue, asking people to get involved in a “campaign to make UCDSU a pro-unity SU”. In the wake of the petition, UCDSU is now to recognise official campaigns for both sides of the argument.
At a meeting of TCDSU Council this week, a motion passed in favour of a similar preferendum on the issue of a united Ireland. Conall Moran, a BESS student, brought a discussion item on the issue, referencing Brexit and the uncertainty surrounding it as evidence that the status of Northern Ireland is “increasingly a student issue”.
A motion followed from the discussion, with students speaking both for and against a preferendum, with a number worrying that it could be excessively divisive. Current TCDSU Welfare Officer Aoibhínn Loughlin drew parallels with the Repeal campaign, comparing non-Northern students speaking on the issue with male politicians legislating on abortion.
A date has not yet been set for the preferendum in Trinity. There will be at least three options on the ballot, with the options including a pro-unity stance, an anti-unity stance, and the maintenance of neutrality.