Katie Ascough has been elected President of UCD Students’ Union, with 1,431 votes out of the total 3,237 cast. Ascough topped the poll in every single building across the campus, including the Newman building.
Philip Weldon was the runner up in the race that saw Ascough leading from early on, Weldon finished on 1,318 votes on the fifth count.
Ronan Bartley was the first candidate to be eliminated from the Presidential race with 622 votes, followed by Rebecca Hart who was eliminated on 818 votes, with both candidates votes then being transferred between the two remaining candidates.
Weldon was behind Ascough heading into the final count with 931 votes to Ascough’s 1,244. Weldon closed the gap to nearly 100 votes in the final count.
Katie Ascough is prominent pro-life activist, and the daughter of Iona Institute’s Board of Director’s Tom Ascough, and columnist for the Catholic newspaper Alive. Addressing the issue in her victory speech Ascough stated that she is “going to be a President for everyone, that will represent all students. I am so proud. Raising the somewhat elephant in the room. I came here [to UCD] with opinions that might not be the norm. I understand that. I have run for this election knowing that. I put my heart and soul into running this campaign, and that is what I will do as UCD Students’ Union President. I will be a President that represents everyone”.
Speaking to the Tribune after the result she said “I’m very proud of UCD students, for realising that we are a diverse group of students. There’s so many different issues where we could and we do disagree, and that’s perfectly healthy. It’s great to see inclusivity”.
Ascough said she was happy her stance on the contentious issue of abortion hadn’t turned off students picking her to be SU President. “They put the person who they thought, they believe, will do the best job as UCD President”.
Ascough said she hoped students would understand that she shouldn’t have to abandon her own personal and political beliefs as President.
“I would hope that students would not expect me to throw my beliefs away at the door. That is untrue to who I am, and what I believe”.
When asked if as President she would attend a Repeal march as Union President she said it was an issue she has been wresting with personally. “I honestly have thought over it several, several times. I really don’t feel comfortable giving an answer to that until I talk to my SU team as to what is appropriate for everyone”.
The Student Union has a mandate to campaign for a pro-choice abortion stance in Ireland. Ascough confirmed she accepted that that was the mandate voted in by students, and confirmed she would, in her role as SU President, be upholding that mandate.
In the other SU elections, Barry Murphy was elected Campaigns & Communications officer, Robert Sweeney was elected in the Education race. Eoghan Mac Domhnaill and Niall Torris both won their uncontested races for Welfare and Graduate officer respectively.
The referendum on Irish Unity saw 63% of students vote in favour of the SU taking a pro-reunification stance.
In the referendum on fees the SU adopted a stance to campaign for significant reduction in the current fee, ahead of maintaining the status quo or a loan scheme.
The turnout for the voting across campus was 3,237 for the Presidential race, and broadly similar for other races and the referenda.
Jack Power | Editor