A pro-life student leader at University College Dublin (UCD) has been impeached four months into her term – a move she described as intolerant and regressive.
Students’ union president Katie Ascough took an executive decision to remove abortion information from the student guidebooks after being advised that unsolicited information was illegal.
It was then replaced with phone numbers and websites for agencies that allowed students to obtain the same information without breaking the law.
However, this decision caused a backlash from pro-abortion campaigners who called for her to be impeached, leading to a vote where students backed her removal by 69 per cent to 31 per cent.
Speaking after the vote’s outcome, Ascough said it was a “sad day” for herself and for UCD.
“Universities should be a place of freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of association”.
She called on universities to allow for “room to respect those with different opinions” as it is “critical to true debate and intellectual freedom”.
“Although I believe my impeachment is a regressive step”, she added, “I hope that the light it has shone on the intolerance of some may allow us to build better campus communities, where tolerance, inclusivity and fairness are truly valued”.
David Quinn, Director of the pro-life and pro-family group the Iona Institute, criticised pro-abortion campaigners for shutting down free speech.
Quinn said those who campaigned to impeach Ascough “have revealed how utterly intolerant they are of anyone they disagree with, right to the point of overturning election results that don’t go their way”.
“At the end of the day, Ascough was impeached because she was elected to lead a body that is left-wing and pro-choice to its core, and someone with her viewpoint could not be tolerated.”
“She was democratically elected, and nothing she did justified her impeachment, which was done without anything remotely resembling due process. This was a purge. Nothing less.”
In 2018, the Republic of Ireland will vote on the country’s constitutional protections for the unborn.
The Eighth Amendment currently pledges to “defend and vindicate” the equal right to life of the unborn and the mother, “as far as practicable”.
But following prolonged pressure to hold a referendum on the issue, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar recently announced that a vote will be held in May or June next year.