Referendum for Ascough’s impeachment announced for late October

UCDSU President Katie Ascough faces impeachment following the removal of abortion information from UCDSU’s handbook

A referendum for the impeachment of University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU)  President  Katie Ascoughs  has been called this evening. Voting will take place on October 25 and 26. The petition signed by 1200 students was accepted by the Returning Officer today.

Campaigns and Communications Officer Barry Murphy, who is Vice-President of UCDSU, will act as President during this time, while Ascough takes annual leave.

In a statement made through UCDSU’s Facebook page, Ascough said: “While this process is ongoing, it is important that it does not impact the day-to-day work of the Union, and that we continue to support and represent students. I will now take annual leave until the referendum concludes”.

A campaign calling for Ascough to remain as President was launched on Facebook this evening.

Calls for impeachment initially began when Ascough, who is pro-life, removed abortion information from the UCDSU handbook, despite opposition from the other UCDSU sabbatical officers, with the reprinting the magazine costing €8000.

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. According to the UCDSU constitution, “Other than resignation, death, or incapacity in accordance with this Constitution, an Impeachment Referendum shall be the only means for the vacation of office of any member of the Executive.”

The campaign suffered a setback last Tuesday, when the returning officer refused to accept the petition due a constitutional technicality. The UCD constitution required signators to include both their name and signature as well as other details. However, the petition lacked space for signatures.

The campaign organisers altered the petition and starting to collect signatures again from Wednesday onwards. The petition got the necessary amount of signatures again to initiate a referendum on their first day of collecting signatures.  

In a statement made by the organisers they said: “ We were obviously somewhat disheartened by the rejection of our first petition however, ultimately this facilitated more people engaging with our campaign, and confirms that the Returning Officer is firmly committed to the democratic process!”

The organisers of the petition have stated they will only accept minimal funding for dispersal of information or clarification of misinformation and will not be purchasing posters or t-shirts for their campaign. A campaign calling for Ascough to remain as President is expected to be launched also.

Ascough has yet to make a public statement about the call for her  impeachment and has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. 

Sarah Meehan

Sarah is a 2nd year German and Economics student.