Nathan Harrington eliminated from welfare & equality race

Harrington was sanctioned for referring to people with disabilities as “disableds”

Welfare & equality candidate Nathan Harrington has been eliminated from the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) sabbatical election.

The Electoral Commission (EC) confirmed Harrington and his campaign team were “eliminated from the election having accumulated a point total greater than 100 points” worth of sanctions.

Harrington previously received 50 points for promoting his personal Instagram on his online campaign page.

According to a post shared to Harrington’s campaign account, the EC ruled he had “committed a serious violation of the College’s dignity and respect policy” when he referred to people with disabilities as “disableds”.

Harrington wrote on Instagram: “It’s a sad day when identity-first language gets a young Nathan disqualified.”

According to the EC, Harrington requested an appeal after being informed of the decision, but the elimination was upheld by the Appeals Board.

In a statement to Trinity News, Harrington said he is “very sorry for any offence caused by my use of the term [disableds]”.

“I would like to invite people to learn about identity-first language, but understand that some are stuck in their ways,” he said.

“I had asked if identity-first language in general would be in violation of the policy, unfortunately the EC and sabbatical team refused to make that clear.

“Despite having over 15 separate parts of my campaign investigated and cleared of all wrongness, I will admit that I and my campaign team of disableds were wrong to use their preferred term.”

Harrington claimed a student with disabilities told him they took “absolutely no offence” to his campaign and he “inspired” them to vote.

Today is the last day of voting in the TCDSU sabbatical election. Harrington will not appear on ballots for the welfare & equality race today, leaving only Hamza Bana and Hannah McAuley contesting the position.

Ballots submitted over the past two days since voting has opened will remain valid. In the count this evening, Harrington will be automatically eliminated and his first preference votes will be transferred to his second preferences.

Harrington’s race for welfare & equality officer has been marked with controversy since campaigning began last week.

His manifesto included promises such as using 100% of his salary to buy sweets for students and introducing “LGBTQIA+ lectures to teach people how to have queer sex” with “demonstrations”.

Harrington’s manifesto also referred to people with disabilities as “the disableds”, which was questioned at Equality hustings on Tuesday.

On Friday ahead of Media hustings, activist group EmpowerTheVoice used their trademark chalk messaging to criticise Harrington’s campaign, accusing him of using platform “to mock marginalised groups”.

EmpowerTheVoice noted everything written on the blackboard was “directly quoted” from Harrington, including that he believes giving out sweets “would go further than a lump sum to food banks”.

Harrington later issued a statement apologising “unreservedly for any upset caused”.

“I really do just want to hand out chocolates on campus”, he added.

“I think that writing such disgusting and defamatory things about me hoping to catch me by surprise and upset me at the hustings was a terribly low blow and totally uncalled for”, he continued.

Voting in the TCDSU sabbatical election closes today. The results will be announced this evening.

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