- 30 Aug 18
In a major, in-depth interview conducted by Hot Press Magazine, newly elected USI President Síona Cahill opens up about the success of the Repeal referendum, and the challenges which lie ahead.
Having gained national attention for her activism in the lead up the Repeal and marriage equality referenda, and having previously held various elected roles in student politics, Síona Cahill seemed like the natural successor to previous President Michael Kerrigan.
In a wide-ranging interview with Hot Press, Síona lays out her plans for the year ahead and talks about the challenges which students in Ireland are facing, including the effects of a disastrous housing crisis on students, the importance of having publicly funded education, and the problems surrounding Brexit and access to abortion services faced by students living in Northern Ireland.
On top of this, Síona speaks openly about her experiences of growing up gay in rural Longford, and why this pushed her towards activism.
On coming out and how this led to activism, Síona tells us: "I came out when I was 20 years of age...It was important to me that we have more LGBT voices who are prominent, because when I was growing up I didn't have them. It's still really important that we name our identities, because you never know the impact that might have on a young person, especially if they are struggling to come out, especially in rural Ireland."
On student accommodation and the housing crisis: "The student accommodation crisis is urgent. It's happening right in the middle of the housing and homelessness crisis in Ireland...You have instances like in NUIG, and apartments in DCU where, effectively overnight, student accommodation went up 27%. Students were being asked for deposits for the next year during exam time - which is highly manipulative."
On campaigning for Repeal and helming Longford For Yes: "It didn't always feel like we were in the majority. But looking back now, one of the things I'm most proud of is that is that I coordinated Longford For Yes, and this little county in the middle of Ireland voted Yes - after not voting yes for Marriage Equality. There were women there who had been silent for years who wouldn't be silenced at the ballot box."
On supporting women in Northern Ireland when it comes to having access to health care and abortion services: "A lot of people didn't know that it was Northern Irish citizens who often took legal risks by being postal addresses for [abortion] pills coming into the Republic. They were taking risks for us. For decades. Now we need to provide the same solidarity with them."
The full interview explores the work of the USI, as well as giving an insight into the referenda which have defined modern Ireland.
To read the full interview, buy Hot Press in stores now, or order it here:
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