UCD Students' Union President Faces Impeachment Over Abortion Controversy

Enough signatures have now been collected to hold a referendum to impeach pro-life campaigner Katie Ascough in order to remove her from her role as president of the students' union.

The campaign to dismiss Katie from her role was launched after she removed an advert with information about access to abortion from a students' handbook.

Katie claimed she was forced to remove the advert for legal reasons. And removing it cost the students’ union an estimated €8,000.

Katie is a pro-life campaigner who is actually the daughter of Tom Ascough, a board member of the Iona Institute.

"I don’t see how the decision to withdraw the abortion information for students at UCD was based on any legal argument,” Senator Ivana Bacik says in this morning's edition of the Guardian newspaper.

“In reality, for decades now, students’ unions in Ireland have been publishing information in freshers’ handbooks on where to obtain abortions outside Ireland. That generally means that they have been printing the contact details of clinics like Marie Stopes and BPAS in England, alongside information on other options open to women facing a crisis pregnancy, such as contact details for single parent support networks and adoption agencies.

"By providing abortion information in this way, they are not advocating or promoting abortion. No students’ union has been prosecuted for any breach of the 1995 act as a result."

This is the second effort to remove her as Students' Union president. The original petition failed last month over concerns with its validity. It had been discovered that signatures were incorrectly recorded for the petition.

A minimum of 10% of registered Students’ Union members must cast their vote in order for any referendum to be passed.

Katie announced last night that she is stepping down from her role on annual leave until after the referendum.

"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," she said in a statement on Facebook last night.

After she removed the advert, Katie released a statement to the news website the journal.ie, saying: "Since elected, I have carried out my duties as president in keeping with the UCDSU Constitution, which clearly states I am responsible for the administration of the Union.

"In line with the legal advice obtained, and with agreement from the Board of Directors to follow that legal advice, I would have been acting imprudently to put the Union and individuals at risk by facilitating the distribution of this illegal information.

“Therefore, I made the decision to redact the mentioned content."

An impeachment referendum will now take place on October 25 and October 26.


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