UCD SU President Will Not Attend March for Choice

UCD Students’ Union plans to take part in the upcoming March for Choicewithout the participation of President Katie Ascough. The march will take placeon Saturday September 30 th , starting from the Garden of Remembrance at1:30pm.Something that may have a significant effect on the campaign is that UCDSU’spresident, Katie Ascough, will not be attending the March for Choice. When askedon the issue she told the University Observer, “The march is on a Saturday, it’s notworking hours and I think that we are very comprehensively represented at themarch and so I won’t be there.”Ascough is pro-life and has previously attended public pro-life events. Whenattending a pro-life protest on Grafton Street in October of last year, on the sameday as the March for Choice, she told the Irish Times that “I am in UCD and theStudents’ Union there is very much in your face pro-choice.” She described thisas “very unfair to the students who are pro-life.” Ascough also attended the Rallyfor Life in July of this year, following her election in March.Last November a referendum on whether or not UCDSU should take a neutralstance on abortion failed, with 64% of students voting to support campaigns torepeal the 8 th amendment. The Students’ Union also made a submission to theCitizen’s Assembly last year stating that “on behalf of its membership, UCDStudents’ Union advocates for comprehensive reproductive health services inIreland including the provision of safe and legal abortion for people that chooseit.”When asked by the University Observer if she had any plans to attend a counterprotest to the March for Choice this year she replied “absolutely not.”Speaking on UCDSU’s plans to attend, Barry Murphy, the Campaigns &Communications Officer, said “I have met with UCD for Choice several times.We’re doing videos, we’re holding placard and poster-making workshops on the27th, 28th in the [Student Centre] atrium.”Ascough stated that her role in the lead up to the march “is facilitating, makingsure that the budget is there, that everything is in place and just letting Barryreally take lead.” In the run up to union elections last year, Ascough promisedthat she would deal with the issue by “communicating and delegating.”Murphy said “ideally it would be great if she was [there]. I respect her views, andI respected her during the campaign, she said she would delegate”.But UCDSU will march without Ascough, all other sabbatical officers and severalSU staff will be present at the march. According to Murphy “The march is on the30th. We’re doing a breakfast in town. We will organise a point to meet here inUCD and a point to meet in town, for the breakfast and before the march.”He added that the SU will be getting a new banner and new t-shirts designed andplan to do something similar to the “Vote for ME” campaign, which was run formarriage equality. “I’ll be going to society stands with Snapchat and Instagramstories, talking to people asking ‘why are you going to the march?’”He also highlighted a slight change in direction for the campaign turning awayfrom the starkness of the Strike 4 Repeal. “UCD for choice wants to expand whatthey’re doing to the less passionate students, who’ll vote pro-choice but won’t goto the march. We’re trying to make it more relatable to get them more involvedwith the campaign. The colours are changing to be friendlier. [The] pro-choicemovement has come across as aggressive and to be more accessible we are goingto move to [be]more friendly [and] happy.”