Members of UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) attended the fourth annual March for Choice in Dublin city centre on Saturday, 26th September. Organised by the Abortion Rights Campaign, the Irish Times reported that thousands of people took to the streets for the march, which went from the Garden of Remembrance to Merrion Square.
The Abortion Rights Campaign has been calling for a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution. This year, the group urged politicians to pledge to hold a referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment as part of their election pledges, in advance of the 2016 General Election.
UCDSU posted on its Facebook page that it would be taking part in the march “out of a sense of personal conviction but also on a democratic mandate from UCD students.” The “democratic mandate” referred to comes from a controversial four-option preferendum held by UCDSU in October 2013. 45% of a valid poll of 2,527 students voted for the Union to adopt a policy that it supports abortion in circumstances where a woman requests it.
The aftermath of the preferendum saw student Samuel O’Connor, then leader of UCD Students Against Abortion, attempt to disaffiliate from UCDSU. However, the fallout from the preferendum has continued up to the present. O’Connor recently launched Irish Students for Free Association (IFSA), a group which campaigns for voluntary association with students’ unions, which was reported in the previous issue of the College Tribune.
The 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution which was passed in 1983, by a 67% to 33% vote in favour of the amendment from over 1,250,000 voters. As a result, Article 40.3.3 was entered into the Constitution, and states that “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
Words by Cian Carton, News Editor