Petition to impeach UCD union president rejected after error

Students seeking to hold vote to remove Katie Ascough over abortion information

UCD student union president Katie Ascough (centre) at Rally for Life this July. Photograph: Jack Power

UCD student union president Katie Ascough (centre) at Rally for Life this July. Photograph: Jack Power

 

A petition to hold a referendum to impeach University College Dublin’s student union president has been rejected as invalid by the union’s election returning officer.

Some 1,620 students put their names to a petition to hold a vote over the UCD student union president Katie Ascough’s position.

However, the student union returning officer Stephen Devine has ruled the petition was not valid.

The ‘Impeach UCDSU President’ group, which submitted the petition, collected the names, student number, course and year of each student, but did not leave a column for students to add their signature.

Mr Devinesaid that under the union constitution, the petition was invalid as each student had not signed their name alongside their details.

The student group said it would now begin collecting signatures for the petition again from Wednesday and hoped to submit the new completed petition by Thursday at the latest.

The returning officer will then check to see if it meets the rules of the union constitution, and verify that each person who signed it is a current student.

The minimum number of signatures required to hold an impeachment vote is 835.

Ms Ascough said she would not formally comment on the impeachment referendum until a date for the vote was confirmed, until then she said she will continue with her “presidential duties”.

Abortion Information

The effort to remove Ms Ascough, who is an anti-abortion activist, followed her decision to reprint the UCD Freshers’ magazine Winging It, with a page on information regarding abortion services in the United Kingdom removed in the second edition.

The decision to remove the page, which required reprinting the annual guide, is estimated to have cost the union about €8,000.

Ms Ascough said she took the decision following legal advice on the potential liability of providing the information under the Abortion Information Act of 1995.

While it is lawful to provide information in Ireland about abortions abroad, it is subject to strict conditions. For example, detailed information about abortion abroad may only be made available by doctors, specific agencies or by individual counsellors.

A breach of the Abortion Information Act of 1995 is an offence under law and can result in fines of up to €1,900.