UCD Life Society are seeking to debate the 8th Amendment with UCD for Choice in second semester. The group which are seeking formal recognition from UCD have approached both UCD for Choice and UCDSU President Barry Murphy about the possibility of having a debate.
Speaking to the Tribune the President confirmed that he had been approached by the group. “UCD Life Society contacted me enquiring had I been informed about a possible debate between them and UCD for Choice. My response was that I had been in discussion with UCD for Choice about a proposed debate and would be happy to discuss it with both UCD for Choice and UCD Life Society.”
When asked why the group had felt the need to approach Barry Murphy about the debate, a spokesperson for the group said “As such and given his position and former position in the Union, we felt it appropriate to mention it to the President as well. Moreover, at this stage in the campaign and with regard to the goings-on on campus in recent times in relation to the abortion issue, it would be most appropriate for the President to be active in ensuring that all students have ample opportunity to make up their own minds on the upcoming referendum.”
UCDSU has a mandate to repeal the 8th Amendment. This mandate was seen to be broken by former UCDSU President Katie Ascough who was impeached following a decision to remove abortion information from the SU’s fresher’s magazine ‘Wingin’ It” in September. Neither UCD Life Society nor UCD for Choice are recognised societies and as such, neither can book a room to host the proposed event.
Speaking on this mandate President Barry Murphy said “While UCDSU has a strong mandate to repeal the 8th Amendment we acknowledge that there’s a diverse range of viewpoints on the issue amongst the student membership. Civil, factual debate in a setting where any student can come and educate themselves on the matter is something we are completely open to. I asked them [UCD Life Society] if they wanted to find out more they could come and see me. At this time they have not done that yet”.
Speaking to the Tribune, UCD for Choice said “As UCD Life Society have pointed out, we at UCD for Choice have given our full commitment to discussion on the facts surrounding abortion and the 8th amendment in Ireland. Due to this, we have come to the conclusion that a society style debate is not an appropriate platform to pursue this commitment. A debate is not a place to discuss facts, but opinions. Debates are won on delivery, rather than facts. As the topic of abortion is an emotive issue, a debate could easily become hostile, rather than productive.”
The group would rather a panel to discuss the 8th amendment similar to an event run by MedSoc in Semester One. They explained “We believe this format not only facilitates abortion information in a clearer way but also takes into account the sensitivities of the topic for both sides.”
When asked if a panel discussion would be something UCD Life Society would participate in they said “We have a number of events we would like to see held on campus this semester, including a range of debates, panel discussions, lectures, guest speakers, and a whole lot more.”
However they are continuing to push for a debate style format saying “UCD For Life feels that the ideal and most appropriate way to begin this particular semester – for both sides of the debate and the large majority of students who have yet to form their own independent, fact-based opinion on the issue – is with a head-to-head between UCD For Life and UCD For Choice on the upcoming referendum.”
The College Tribune reached out to both Law Society and the Literary and Historical (L&H) Society to ask if either had been approached by either UCD Life Society or UCD for Choice to hold a debate on the 8th Amendment.
A spokesperson for the Law Society said “We ran a debate on the 8th amendment during freshers week which was attended by 500 students. While our debates for this semester have not been completely finalized, we don’t envisage running the motion again in this session. We haven’t received any proposals regarding this.”
A spokesperson for the L&H said “Our plan is to hold a guest, panel and debate series in April in the lead up to the referendum. We haven’t been approached by either society but we would plan on coordinating with as many groups on campus as possible for all of the events.”
Rachel O’Neill – Editor