Thursday 17 October 2019

Petition to impeach UCD Student Union President Katie Ascough has been rejected

Katie Ascough
Katie Ascough
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

A petition to impeach the University College Dublin (UCD) Student Union President Katie Ascough has been rejected by the Returning Officer of the Students’ Union.

Returning Officer Stephen Devine, rejected the petition on Monday as he was concerned with its validity.

Over 1620 students signed the petition calling for UCD SU President Katie Ascough to be impeached due to her pro-life views.

Just weeks into her presidential term Ms Ascough was criticised after she withdrew information over access to abortion services in a magazine circulated to new students.

Ms Ascough said she took an “executive decision” to redact the information after receiving legal advice that the abortion information was illegal in Ireland, despite the fact the information was previously available in UCD.

The information in the 'Winging It' magazine that was removed included pregnancy help websites, the prices of abortion in other countries and information on abortion pills.

While it is lawful to provide information in Ireland about abortions abroad, it is subject to strict conditions.

Ms Ascough's decision was widely criticised by the student body as the decision to remove the page, which required reprinting the annual guide, is estimated to have cost the union about €8,000.

The petition calling for Ascough’s impeachment had the following titles: name, programme, stage, student number. However, the petition did not have a section for student's signatures. On this basis, the petition has been rejected by the Returning Officer.

According to Article 6.5 of the UCDSU constitution: “In the case of a referendum by petition, each petitioner must sign the referendum petition underneath, at the end of, or on a sheet attached to, an exact copy of the wording of the proposed referendum and provide their name, programme, stage and student number.”

According to the University Observer, the petition was handed to the Returning Officer on Monday afternoon with 1620 names, a higher number of names than the number of votes Ascough received in the election in March (1154).

The group calling for Ms Ascough's impeachment said they will begin to collect signatures again and will re-submit the petition.

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