A group of students in NUI Galway were removed by an Garda Síochána after a demonstration calling for the repeal of the Eighth amendment earlier this week. The incident occurred on Thursday night at 7pm, when Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived to speak at the college. One student who claims she was not involved in the protest was also removed from the building as she was wearing a Repeal jumper.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was attending an event marking the centenary of the 1916 Rising as a keynote speaker for a panel discussion on ‘The Promise of 1916’. The Taoiseach’s arrival was met by a group of students both inside the college, and a group representing Galway Pro-Choice outside the building protesting for a repeal of the 8th.
Demonstrators chanted pro-choice slogans from the first floor of the building as Taoiseach Enda Kenny entered the college, the students were then ushered away by an Garda Síochána. However following the incident authorities also removed a student from the college who was wearing a Repeal jumper, despite her claims that she was not being involved in the demonstration.
Speaking to the College Tribune, the 2nd year Drama and French student Claire O’Toole explained how the incident unfolded. ‘I went into college to meet classmates for group project work in Arás na Mac Léinn. About 15 minutes later a group of about 25 pro-choice protesters arrived and stood outside the building. Me and my friends stood outside the meeting room and looked down from the balcony to see what was happening’.
A short while later the group returned to studying where they were met by a Garda and security asking them to leave the premises immediately. The group outlined to the authorities that they weren’t in fact taking part in the protest.
O’Toole had been wearing one of the now iconic ‘Repeal’ jumpers that have been popular among pro-choice campaigners since their launch earlier this year. She explained that ‘the security guard walked up to me, pointed at my jumper and said ‘what does that say?’. We tried to explain it was merely a coincidence, however they weren’t impressed. I replied saying that I’m a student and not a protester. He peered at the script I was reading to make sure it was academic’.
‘I honestly felt very threatened in that room, they were very condescending. We were then escorted out of the building by them and we were not permitted re-entrance’ she said.
The Citizen’s Assembly, which is made up of a judge and ninety-nine randomly selected citizens to debate the contentious issue has been meeting over the last number of months, but no recommendations are expected from the group until 2017.
Oisin MacCanna | Political Editor