Council branded “undemocratic” after motion to hold referendum on political stance fails

TCDSU President László Molnárfi said he and others will continue to ignore chapter 1.4, “the apolitical stance in the constitution”

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) council has been branded “undemocratic” after a motion to hold a a referendum to change the political aims of the union failed once again.

While 64% of council members voted in favour of holding the referendum, a two-third majority was required to call a referendum.

The referendum proposed to replace the current wording of chapter 1.4 of the TCDSU constitution, which states the union will achieve its objectives “independent of any political, racial or religious ideology”.

The referendum sought to change the wording to: “The union shall pursue their objectives in a radical, egalitarian and autonomous way, and shall not affiliate with far-right groups.”

The motion was proposed by School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultural Studies Convenor Niko Evans and seconded by Molnárfi.

Mólnárfi told Trinity News this motion’s failure “sets a bad precedent in ignoring students’ wishes to hold a referendum on an issue of great importance”.

“As a result of council not letting students have a vote, we will not back down, and we will keep being political in defiance of 1.4, the apolitical stance in the constitution,” he said.

“This will consist of continuing our stance of no-confidence in the government, which is a majority position amongst the student body.”

Evans said tonight’s result is “disappointing but unsurprising”.

“SU council makes no effort to reach out to the average student and they blatantly ignored a petition to call for a referendum signed by 520 students in 5 days,” he said.

“This organisation is undemocratic and unfit to represent the student body.”

The previous wording of the referendum proposed that the union “shall not affiliate with far-right groups, including, but not limited to, white supremacists and Christian extremists”.

The referendum, due to take place in February, was later cancelled following complaints the proposed wording was “incompatible with statutory anti-discrimination legislation”.

The motion noted that the new wording has “been verified by the union solicitor”.

“The current wording of the Constitution inhibits the ability of the Union to properly advocate for its members. Radical action is a necessary tool for a robust students’ union, and our Constitution should reflect that reality.”

Speaking against the motion, one man said this would risk tying students to political ideologies they do not agree with.

Another student pointed out a definition of what far-right means should be included to avoid confusion.

Additional reporting by Kate Henshaw, Gabriela Gazaniga, Stephen Conneely, Charlotte Kent, Conor Healy, Madison Pitman, Emily Sheehan, David Wolfe and Aidan Cusack.

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News and a Senior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Assistant Editor and Features Editor