A photo and video of UCD postdoctoral researcher Abraham Campbell has come to the attention of national media, sick including RTÉ’s 2fm, cialis and has been circulating social media sites. The images see Campbell, dressed as a stormtrooper from the Star Wars movies, standing outside the Dáil opposing the abolition of the Seanad with the use of humorous placards.
Campbell told the College Tribune that he decided to take these images as he thought it would be a fun way to engage with people about the importance of checks and balances in the political system. “Even if our Seanad is only a limited check , it’s still a check and by abolishing it without putting back in another check you reduce checks and balances within your political system overall,” said Campbell.
The images have been circulating in social media outlets and to date the original post has received over 330,000 views on the online image hosting service Imgur. It has also received nearly 500 shares on Facebook and has become a popular story on the Irish news website breakingnews.ie. Campbell spoke to the College Tribune about the success of the images, “I wasn’t so sure it would [become popular] as it’s quite a nerdy point, Imperial senate in Star Wars was remarkably similar to our current Seanad as it could not block anything directly but could only speak out and raise issues, but I thought it could become popular if enough people got the joke, even at a superficial level.”
Campbell hopes that through social media the images will do some good for the No side of the Seanad referendum campaign. “The main purpose was to get people actually engaging with the referendum, as constitutional referendums can be quite boring,” Campbell added.
This factor was one of his main reasons for taking the images and doing it in such a way that would grab people’s attention. Campbell also hopes that his actions will “at least get people to start educating themselves about the upcoming referendum, no matter which side they eventually agree with.”
UCD students seem to have conflicting views on the images and their effectiveness. “It got my attention in that its interesting and I do think that the no side of the campaign has gotten far less publicity than the yes side, so in that regard it’s an excellent idea. With that said, I think the reference is maybe a little cheap but it’s certainly an excellent way to bring attention to the positive points of keeping the Seanad, ” said Evan Kearney, a third year Law with Politics student.
Joey Harper, a second year Commerce student, opposed this by saying that costumed protesters do get more attention, however, the images lacked originality and failed to make much of an impact.
These are not the last images people will see of Campbell and the stormtrooper costume. Campbell plans to do more campaigning in the costume to gain more attention. “It may start to get national media interested as we plan to do some more campaigning with the costume but crucially it may get people who otherwise would not vote to start engaging with the issue,” Campbell added.