The minutes of the first executive meeting of the UCDSU which took place on September 21st have finally been released. The minutes released detail the aftermath of the Winging It reprint controversy. In the minutes the leadership of the UCDSU President Katie Ascough was questioned by a number of the sabbatical officers.
Graduate Officer Niall Torris stated that he had no confidence in the President saying that a “falsity had been given to the electorate” and that “leadership was a question here”. Mr Torris went on to ask “Can the student body still trust us?”
The Campaigns and Communications Officer Barry Murphy in his report outlined the events surrounding the reprint and how the decisions were made. He stated “Firstly, there should have been an open discussion with all members of exec[cutive] having equal votes.” He explained “On the day before [the] deadline Katie was asked to look at the book several times. · I did not request Katie to look at page 59 (the page with the abortion information) specifically. When seeing the page – Katie agreed to keep [the] page.” He went on to explain that “Richard Hammond (UCDSU lawyer) gave legal advice to President (Ascough). Despite requests from sabbatical officers, we were not included in this advice. Consensus was to retain book and page 59.”
Mr Murphy then outlined a situation where Education Officer Rob Sweeney “Raised hypothetical legal concerns for himself and staff around women on web section. To seek further advice on this he then contacted union lawyer who then refused to talk to him.” He also explained why the books needed to be reprinted saying “If the book had not been reprinted, the sponsorship money would have needed to be refunded. This would cause issue in the future with these sponsors and further cause repetitional damage.”
In a stunning revelation Mr Murphy revealed “After over 2 hours argument with Katie, officers decided to walk out of the meeting. Reason for this walk out was that all Sabbat’s advice had been given to protect Katie and the union and the role of the president. Katie would not take this on board.” He then stated it was Ms Ascough’s decision to remove the information saying “ After this, I then presented informative info to Katie that was legal. Katie refused to take this information on board. Katie decided to redraft the page.” He also raised the issue “Katie then requested negotiation around the UCD for Choice stand and recruiting of pro-choice class reps” before finally stating that he had no confidence in the President.
Ms Ascough did publicly release the legal information around her decision on 12th October but this information was received by her on 1st September. The minutes reveal that the sabbatical officers only saw this legal information at this meeting on September 21st, nearly 3 weeks after she received it. With regards to the fines that they could have incurred Mr Murphy also states in the minutes “SU did this before, accepting a fine of 40 thousand pounds. We’ve dispersed condoms when it was illegal. Student Activists network is what we are. No following of the mandate. Due to a pro-life president.”
In total 3 officers stated they had no confidence in the President. A full copy of the minutes can be found here.
Rachel O’Neill – Editor
Aaron Bowman – Politics Editor