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UCD referendum to be held for impeachment of Students' Union president Katie Ascough

Last month, Ascough pulled abortion information from a fresher’s magazine.

Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

A REFERENDUM FOR the impeachment of UCD Students’ Union president Katie Ascough has been called.

The petition calling for Ascough’s impeachment was accepted by the union’s Returning Officer Stephen Devine after it collected 1,200 signatures.

The campaign calling for the impeachment of Ascough was launched after she made the decision to remove a page about access to abortion from a magazine handed out to new students.

Following the news of the referendum, Ascough announced that she will take annual leave until the voting has taken place.

UCDSU vice-president Barry Murphy will take her place as acting president during this time.

In a statement made on UCDSU’s Facebook page, Ascough said: “While this process is ongoing, it is important that it does not impact the day-to-day work of the Union, and that we continue to support and represent students. I will now take annual leave until the referendum concludes.”

In order for the referendum to be passed, a minimum of 10% of registered Students’ Union members must cast their vote.

Last week, the campaign suffered a setback after Devine rejected the first version of the petition after signatures were incorrectly recorded.

Removal of abortion information

Speaking after the decision was made to remove the information from the magazine, which initially sparked the controversy, Ascough said she did so after seeking legal advice from the union’s lawyer.

Ascough is an active pro-life campaigner. She is the daughter of Tom Ascough, a board member of the Iona Institute.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, Ascough said that it was only after the magazines were delivered to the SU that a staff member raised the potential illegality of its content to her. From there, she sought the legal advice and discussed the situation with her fellow sabbatical officers.

“Since elected, I have carried out my duties as president in keeping with the UCDSU Constitution, which clearly states I am responsible for the administration of the Union,” Ascough said.

In line with the legal advice obtained, and with agreement from the Board of Directors to follow that legal advice, I would have been acting imprudently to put the Union and individuals at risk by facilitating the distribution of this illegal information.

“Therefore, I made the decision to redact the mentioned content,” she said.

According to the University Observer, four UCDSU sabbatical officers were opposed to Ascough’s decision to reprint the magazine.

Despite objections from her co-workers, Ascough said: “I stand firm that this issue was not in the realms of my delegating an abortion issue but was my stepping up and leading as the president to ensure we are not putting ourselves or students at risk.”

In November 2016, 64% of the UCD student body voted to retain the union’s pro-choice stance.

Read: UCDSU president defends removal of abortion information from fresher’s magazine

More: UCC spent €200,000 in 2016 on rabbits, rats, pigs, and birds which were used in live experiments

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