Originally published in Volume IV, Issue 2 on 10th October 1997 by Observer Reporters.
Youth Defence, the anti-abortion activists, are threatening to sue UCD for negligence following a brawl which took place on campus during Freshers’ week.
The fight initially broke out between two members of Youth Defence and a representative of the Socialist Party. A disagreement had arisen concerning the display of a graphic anti-abortion poster. The Socialist Party alleges that Youth Defence started “pushing and shoving” them. A fully-blown violent confrontation developed which put one socialist in the UCD Medical Centre and an anti-abortionist in St. Vincent’s hospital. Gardai were called to the scene and Youth Defence have indicated that they will be taking the matter further.
Michael O’Brien of the Socialist Party who was attending the S.P. stand outside Hilpers, received a blow to the head and was knocked to the ground. The party’s stand was forcibly collapsed. Representatives of another socialist faction, the Dublin Spartacist League, physically intervened at this stage and punches and flying kicks were exchanged. A member of the Sparticist group, which is not recognised as a UCD Society, claimed that he “stood alongside the Socialist Party member in order to dissuade the Youth Defence activists from continuing their provocation.”
Mr. O’Brien claims that the two Youth Defence members made their way to his stall and started provoking him. He claimed that abuse was hurled at him which included assertions of Youth Defence that he “enjoyed babies being murdered” and that he was a “child abuser, molester and paedophile.” He also alleges that he was told he would have his “fucking head kicked in” if he mouthed Youth Defence. Mr. O’Brien’s glasses were smashed and he has “the beginnings of a black eye.”
One of the Youth Defence members involved fractured his hand and had his mobile phone broken. Neither Y.D. member was actually a student of UCD. They say that they were delivering placards and so looking for the Y.D. stand when they passed the Socialist stand. When asked about the content of the placards and whether authorisation had been granted for their display, a Youth Defence member responded that the placards “had nothing to do with abortion and only showed the development of the child in the womb.”
They allege that they were verbally abused as they walked past the Socialist Party stall. One of the two Youth Defence members said that “they told us to get the fuck out of here!” He acknowledges that he made the remark: “You support the killing of little children” directed at the Socialist Party member but claims that “we were assaulted by them.”
The other Youth Defence member, Muiris O Colgain, said that he had been hit repeatedly on the ground. Muiris, whose hand was fractured in the incident, said that “if the Gardai don’t do anything about this, then we’ll definitely take legal action.” Both parties involved presented extensive statements at Donnybrook Garda Station on Tuesday.
Youth Defence have been involved in similar incidents previously but they claim that the Gardai have never forwarded details to the DPP. Mr. O Colgain told the University Observer that he was “fed up” with this situation, and that if action was not taken by the Gardai against the Socialists, Y.D. would be forced to take their first ever civil case.
He blamed UCD for a lack of security and complained that Services did not appear at the scene for ten minutes, despite several requests. Mr O Colgain added that if he did not receive UCD’s full cooperation in compiling evidence, he would consider suing the college.