Belfast Telegraph

Impeached president of students' union subject of 'witch hunt', supporters say

Supporters of the impeached president of UCD students' union have claimed she has been the subject of a "witch hunt".

Katie Ascough was voted out as president of the students' union in the early hours of Friday.

A referendum was called after Ms Ascough stopped the union from publishing information on abortion in a publication aimed at first year students.

Out of the 6611 students who voted, 69% voted in favour of impeachment, while 31% voted against.

After the vote was announced Ms Ascough said: "This is a sad day for me, but it is also a sad day for our university."

The University Observer also quoted her as saying: "Universities should be a place of freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of association, fairness, respect for those who do not wish to break the law and respect for others with different beliefs."

In an open letter on her Fight4Katie campaign page on Thursday, Ms Ascough claimed she was being bullied out of her post.

During and after the referendum she was the subject of abuse on social media. Her supporters have rallied around to defend her.

Fintan Burns tweeted: "#katieAscough. A brave woman who is impeached for bravely carrying out the campus rules. Bullied out by the tolerant brigade".

Kayleigh O'Sullivan tweeted: "We have different views but I feel so sorry for Katie Ascough. This witch hunt is an embarrassment to Choice."

Also defending Ms Ascough, Ray Kinsella wrote on Twitter: "Can't help thinking @ucddublin needs Katie Ascough and others like her(rare!) much more than she needs UCD..."

Ben Conroy said "Katie Ascough and her supporters are the only people to come out of this with a shred of their dignity intact."

Impeachment proceedings were triggered after Ms Ascough ordered the reprinting of copies of a freshers' week student guide, because it contained information including the cost of abortion in other countries and information on abortion pills.

Ms Ascough said she ordered the reprint because going ahead with distribution would have been illegal and could have exposed the union and her personally to a criminal record and a fine.

She claimed "a group of bullies" were behind the impeachment.

Following the result of the vote Amy Crean, of the impeachment campaign, told the University Observer the campaign was run "on democracy and student engagement."

She added: "What I would like people to take from this result is that it's about democracy, that we voted for representation and transparency."

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