A petition calling for the impeachment of University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) President Katie Ascough has surpassed the number of signatures necessary to instigate an Impeachment Referendum.
As outlined by the UCDSU Constitution, the petition should now be handed to the Returning Officer and an impeachment referendum can expected to be held in 2 to 4 weeks. Ascough will be impeached if the majority of votes cast in the referendum favor impeachment and no less than 10% of UCD’s students vote in the referendum.
In a press statement the “Impeach UCDSU President” group that arranged the petition said: “Many students who have signed this petition are fearful of whether more stances made by the other sabbatical officers, and UCD students as a whole, will be altered, or even overridden to assuage the UCDSU President.”
The petition was arranged by a small number of UCD students following outcry over Ascough’s decision to remove information on abortion access from Winging it in UCD, the Students’ Union handbook. 3.5% of the student body – approximately 1000 people – need to sign the petition for an impeachment referendum to be instigated.
UCD students could sign the petition in various buildings around the UCD campus from 9:50am yesterday, however, the text of the petition was published online Tuesday afternoon to give students an opportunity to read over what they would be signing. The petition gained over 600 signatures in its first 4 hours. Petitioning continued this morning.
The petition reads: “We, the undersigned students of UCD, support the removal of the current UCDSU President from Office by Impeachment Referendum.” Only registered UCD students could sign the petition.
Amy Crean, one of the members of the group, told Trinity News on Tuesday that the petition was arranged because Ascough had acted “undemocratically”
While the UCDSU is mandated to campaign for a repeal of the eighth amendment, Ascough herself is pro-life.In the lead up to her election she assured the student body that her beliefs would not interfere with her duties, however, Crean believes Ascough allowed her personal politics “to interfere with the responsibilities of the job she’s mandated to do”.
Crean continued: “She represents a student body that voted for a pro-choice SU, yet actively has stood in the way of access to vital info, putting our welfare at risk.”
The information removed from the handbook included prices of abortions in various countries and how to obtain an abortion pill in Ireland, the latter of which is illegal under the Abortion Information Act of 1995. Ascough sought legal advice regarding the information provided and choose to remove the information, costing the Students’ Union €8,000.