The President of UCD Students’ Union, Katie Ascough, who has been impeached following a referendum by students, has today described the circumstances leading up to her removal as a blow to freedom of speech, of thought, and of association.
Last week 69% of the 6,600 students who turned out to vote, voted in favour of removing Ms Ascough - a pro-life activist - from office despite her explanation that information she asked be removed from a student handbook was only removed after concerns were raised about the legality of publishing unsolicited information around price lists and web sites that sell abortion pills.
In the first extensive explanation of the circumstances that led to her impeachment Ms Ascough said that subsequent suggestions that her action was motivated by some sort of pro-life censorship was "unfounded and ... absurd".
In a statement she goes on to suggest that the campaign to remove her was based on a series of allegations which she strongly refuted and warned that moves to remove someone "because their opinion differs from yours is not conducive to fostering a respectful and inclusive community."
She goes on: "There must be room to respect those with different opinions. This is critical to true debate and intellectual freedom.
"Although I believe my impeachment is a regressive step - to convict someone of the crime of refusing to commit a crime is a dangerous precedent - I hope that the light it has shone on the intolerance of some may allow us to build better campus communities, where tolerance, inclusivity and fairness are truly valued."