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UCC society withdraws Nick Griffin invite to 'free speech' debate

UCC’s Government and Politics Society withdraws its invite to the BNP leader, citing concerns for student safety.

Image: Mike Hornby/PA Wire

A STUDENT SOCIETY in University College Cork has withdrawn its invitation to British National Party leader Nick Griffin to attend a debate there next month.

In a statement this afternoon, the UCC Government and Politics Society said it had withdrawn the invitation as a result of submissions from University staff and Gardaí, who had outlined a “potential threat to the safety and welfare of our students and the general public”.

“The Government and Politics Society fully accept its responsibility to put the welfare of the student body and its members first and are not prepared to compromise them at any cost,” the statement said.

While the society says it remains committed to open debate, and it will still host the planned debate later in the year, the BNP leader and MEP will not be featured a speaker.

Society auditor Ben English told TheJournal.ie that the circumstances of the withdrawal were “unfortunate, but the main thing is that as a student society our main priority is students and their safety.

It wasn’t pressure from the left or anything, it’s not about politics – there are bigger things than politics and student safety is one of them.

The proposed visit had been opposed by a number of political societies on campus, including its branch of the Labour party.

“We hope the society can continue to provide a platform for political debate through the many events we plan to hold this year,” the society’s statement said.

“Whilst we make this decision with regret, we are no longer in a capacity to invite Mr Griffin but now look forward to moving on and hosting many more events for UCC students and the general public in the coming year.”

University authorities had previously pledged security support for the event, but English explained that the threat to student safety from “members of a minority community” meant it was no longer viable. ”You have to know what your costs are,” English said.

A debate on inviting Griffin had been held at the college’s Philosophical Society last week, with a majority of students reportedly backing the plans to invite the BNP leader.

The withdrawal of the invitation marks the second time that an invitation for Griffin to participate in an Irish university debate has been withdrawn this year.

Trinity College’s Philosophical Society had invited him to participate in a debate on immigration in October, but the college and society later withdrew the invite citing ‘safety considerations’.

Column: UCC’s Nick Griffin invitation is a game – and fascism is the winner

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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