Opt-In SU referendum petitions invalid

Fionnuala Walsh

Logos of Sinn Fein Youth and Students For Fair Representation. Credit: Sinn Fein Youth twitter and SFFR facebook

Referendums for an opt-in Students’ Union and a second vote on the college’s stance on abortion will not be going ahead, according to DCU Students’ Union president.

The petition which called for a referendum was not validated by the returning officer or the president of the SU Niall Behan. However, a referendum vote on DCUSU’s position regarding a united Ireland will be put to students at the same time as the upcoming Student Union elections.

The problem with the opt-in union and abortion petitions is that both questions were asked on a single petition, and not on separate pieces of paper. You cannot vote on the two different issues with the same answer, and the signatures were not counted as valid.

“It was all a mess,” Behan said. “They won’t be going ahead simply because the signatures were collected on one question, and that cannot be done. You can’t have two questions on the same sheet.”

The petitions called for the DCU Students’ Union to become opt-in, instead of students being automatically part of the union when they enrol in the university. The organisation which called for a referendum, Students For Fair Representation, felt that the SU were not properly representing student interests, and that another referendum on the university’s stance on abortion should called.

A similar mistake with signatures was made in UCD last year when the first petition to impeach former SU president Katie Ascough was ruled invalid by the returning officer. The petition did not include a column for signatures, and was therefore deemed not valid under the SU constitution.

“They won’t be going ahead unless they can validate what they have submitted which they can’t,” Behan said. “I haven’t been approached about it.”

The referendum on the university’s stance on Irish unity will be put to students in the 6th week of the semester. This will be held at the same time as regular elections for student union positions and conducted through the student portal Loop.

“The united Ireland one was put on my desk and I verified it and that’s perfect. The way it was presented, all signatures seemed to correlate with the people that signed it,” he said.

Fionnuala Walsh