The University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) have voted in favour of signing the Le Chéile Charter ‘to challenge the growth of the far-right’. In their final council meeting of the semester and the current academic year, the UCDSU voted in favour of the motion which was brought forward by Darryl Horan and Ruairi Power.
The mandate, which was passed with a clear majority, states that the UCDSU will sign the Le Chéile charter, and support the activities of Le Chéile so long as the activities and goals of the movement aligns with those of the SU.
Le Chéile describe themselves on their website as, “a campaign for a United Front – Unity, Diversity and Solidarity”. According to their ‘About’ section, the Le Chéile “coalition involves political parties, unions, civil society organisations, and individuals who have a shared aim of making Ireland a country where all can live without the fear of harassment or persecution because of their ethnicity, beliefs, ability, gender, sexuality or identity”.
Roh Perera, a veterinary student and one of the founding members of Le Chéile, spoke for the motion in the place of Horan who ceded his time. “Globally and in Ireland we have been seeing a rise in far-right activity and this has seen a rise in racism and targeting marginalised communities, such as migrants, the disabled, and LGBTQ+ community members,” Perera told the SU council.
“Le Chéile was formed as an All-Ireland progressive alliance to fight this regressive, toxic rhetoric that comes with it,” Perera continued. “The far-right are capitalising on the COVID crisis and the popularity of conspiracy theories that we have been seeing. It is only be a broad, progressive movement that we will stop them.”
Perera was insistent that students should be heard in these matters, similar to the manner in which the UCD students helped to counter the misinformation spread by UCD Professor Delores Cahill. “As [is the case with] most progressive movements, student activism is an integral part of ours,” Perera told council. “We need students to play a key role in this fight and the youth need to lead by example.”
“UCD Students played a critical role in challenging Delores Cahill and delegitimising her and we should build on this to defend the rights that the UCDSU has fought so hard to win. We need to be clear who’s side we are on: the side of the marginalised communities that feel threatened in the current environment.”
Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor