Three UCDSU sabbatical officers take annual leave to campaign for impeachment of Ascough

Rob Sweeney, Barry Murphy and Niall Torris are the officers who will be campaigning for the Vote Yes group

Three members of University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) have taken annual leave to campaign for the impeachment of UCDSU President Katie Ascough. The three officers campaigning are Education Officer Robert Sweeney, Graduate Officer Niall Torris and Campaigns and Communications Officer Barry Murphy. The three are said to have the support of the remaining sabbatical officer of UCDSU, Welfare Officer Eoghan MacDomhnaill.

A statement made on the UCDSU Facebook page outlined what would happen in the coming week. “Our annual leave will occur at different stages over the coming days so as to ensure the welfare of students will be maintained,” it said, adding that they have “made every effort to ensure the work of the Union continues”. Sabbatical officers can not campaign during the impeachment referendum unless they take annual leave.

This follows a drama-filled campaign for Ascough, following the removal of abortion information from UCDSU’s handbook Winging It. All four sabbatical officers condemned Ascough’s decision, outlining their grievances with the decision to student media outlets. Murphy and Torris also spoke out about Ascough’s decision not to attend the March for Choice in September, commenting that her decision was disappointing.

Ascough has clashed previously with Murphy in particular over cuts to funding for the UCD choice campaign, as well as burrito chain Boojum. There have also been allegations of Ascough’s family running her campaign, which is against UCD rules, and other role requirements that had not been followed through over the course of her term as President.  

Murphy posted a statement on his personal Facebook page this evening regarding the sabbatical officer’s decision to campaign for impeachment. Among reasons to campaign, he cited “forceful manipulation” from Ascough to reduce the Union’s budget spend on the repeal campaign over the summer. He said that, after being told to increase the budget overall and then adding €500 to the national referendum repeal campaign, “Katie went from ‘increase everything’ to ‘why did you increase that?’. She insisted I reduce it back down”. He stated that “due to her actions”, Ascough “deserves” to be impeached.

“Under her leadership the moral [sic] on our corridor has dramatically declined. She did not even acknowledge regret to the team for the reputational damage. She has tried to move on and pretend like nothing happened…If I had acted like she has I would be ashamed of myself.”

Torris also made a Facebook post on the matter, stating that UCDSU has been damaged by Ascough’s leadership. He stated that over the past few weeks, “my colleagues and I have been accused of various things. Mud has been thrown our way constantly as part of the impeachment referendum on campus. Recently, in media and in conversation, remarks and accusations have shown me that now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. Not only to protect myself, but also for the interests of our union which has become somewhat of a laughing stock in recent times.”

Torris continued: “The bond and friendship I share with the team is unshakeable and remains strong. Katie has had to work hard to destroy her part in that bond and friendship. I suppose its better soon than later, as hurtful as it has been…And as hurt as I am, I celebrate the realization that the bond and friendship I once shared with Katie is no more and perhaps was never real to begin with.”

The referendum for the impeachment will be held on October 25 and 26.

Additional reporting by Sarah Meehan and Aisling Grace. 

– This article was updated at 9.52pm on 23/10/17 to reflect Barry Murphy’s statement on his Facebook page.

Niamh Lynch

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