that motion 14/EQ9 stated: “That women are still significantly under-represented in Student Union politics, as well as politics nationally. Only 20% of Presidents are women in USI member colleges are women. Only 33% of UK Students Union Presidents are women. In the Dáil Éireann the representation of women in even worse. Only 15% of TDs are women. In local councils across Ireland the representation of women is below 20%. In Northern Ireland, only 19% of MLAs in Stormont are women Ireland ranks 23rd out of 27 EU countries for their percentage of women in parliament. “
that significant work has been undertaken by MOs in empowering women to run for leadership positions in the past year.
the fantastic job USI Pink Training does in empowering members of the student LGBT community to run for SU leadership and also the grassroots engagement that exposes USI to a new generation of Student Leaders.
Congress calls for
the USI to expand the Women In Leadership campaign.
the USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship to take the template provided by USI Pink Training and adapt it to create a weekend training event with the aim of empowering Women not only in their SU’s but in their college, community and careers.
That Sabbatical teams can be diverse in their constitution.
Congress Further Notes
That Sabbatical Officers may not be immediately cognisant of potential issues that might affect their colleagues in the workplace, e.g. sexism and homophobia.
That all Sabbatical Officers should feel safe and respected in their working environments.
Congress therefore mandates
The VP Equality & Citizenship to provide Dignity and Respect Training for all Sabbatical Officer during SUT /SUT+
In September 2011 the NHS in England, Scotland and Wales announced that regulations banning the donation of blood by Gay and Bisexual men would be lifted, and allow for implementing a one-year deferral period instead. This decision comes after the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SABTO) carried out a review and found it could no longer support the permanent exclusion of men who have had sex with men from blood donation.
Congress further notes:
That this change in regulation did not extend to Northern Ireland, despite it being part of the UK, and that despite multiple court cases where it was ruled that the Northern Ireland Minister for Health was unjustified in their refusal to alter the MSM Blood Ban and was “infected by apparent bias” the lifetime blood ban still remains for MSM, while a 12 month blood ban is in place for WSMSM
Congress believes that:
The Northern Irish MSM Blood Ban is discriminatory against members of the LGBT+ Community and is founded on nothing more than inherent bias and bigotry.
The VP Equality & Citizenship to actively campaign to call for an end to this discriminatory ban in Northern Ireland.
Congress also mandates:
The VP Equality & Citizenship to offer their unconditional support and resource to collaborate with the NUS-USI LGBT Officer regarding the ongoing campaign to remove the ban on MSM Blood Donation in the North.
USI Congress Mandates:
The President of USI to lobby the Minister for Health to call for an evidence-based scientific investigation to be carried out, with the purpose of reform of the blood donation policy in Ireland, and to then report back to member organisations on the ongoing progress through National Council.
It is not only those who identify as women who require full reproductive autonomy. Members of the trans* community and those who do not identify with binary genders also require access to reproductive healthcare.
The VP Equality and Citizenship to ensure this is acknowledged in campaigning for abortion rights.
That there is a mandate that exists to develop a criteria of what makes a campus LGBTQI friendly. (14 / EQ 4)
To alter the mandate in this motion to read:
The VP for Equality and Citizenship and regional officers to establish regional working groups for the South, BMW and Dublin regions to assess the criteria that makes a college LGBT inclusive and to publish their findings by January 31st, 2016.
- That across the island of Ireland there are still a number of barriers to a truly egalitarian society
- In the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, our governments have been slow to address serious of issues of inequality, many of which are still written into our legislation.
- The fight for an island of equals is the responsibility of every citizen.
Congress further believes:
- Students across the island are at the forefront of campaigning of on issues of equality such as abortion rights and reproductive justice, equal marriage and against the MSM blood ban.
- Women students, LGBT students, Disabled students and Black students in our institutions all face discrimination both in their time at college and in wider society.
- Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism have no place in the Ireland that we envision.
- Cross-border solidarity between students is a cornerstone of the student movement on across the island and that our power as a campaigning voice comes from our unity.
- The USI officer board to ensure equality issues are at the heart of a campaign influencing candidates and voters before the general election
- The VP Equality and Citizenship and VP Campaigns to work with the NUS-USI President and the relevant liberation officers in Northern Ireland to support campaigns in the struggle for equality.
- The USI officer board to support NUS-USI and students’ unions in the north in the campaigns before the General Election 2015 and Assembly election 2016.
That access for students to vote is limited during term time.
That providing on campus access to voting in all third level institutions would enable and empower students and all members of the educative community to have access to participating within the voting system by the governing authority.
All of Officer Board to lobby for the inclusion of third level institutions as polling stations in Ireland.
The philosophy of equality and inclusion at the heart of the Union of Students’ in Ireland.
USI has a unique opportunity to champion equality and inclusion in theory and practice.
Officer Board lobby for the Irish Constitution to be amended to be equal and inclusive through the voting system.
That there is the belief that students are not engaged in the political process.
That students are very often left out the political process around election time and thus are not incentivised to be engaged.
Congress therefore mandates
The VP Equality and Citizenship and VP Campaigns, in consultation with MOs, to coordinate local hustings in advance of the General Election.
The difficulties voter registration creates for the democratic process.
The success USI has had with voter registration drives in the past.
Congress further notes
The success automatic voter registration has brought to many democracies by making voting more accessible.
The option of an “opt-out scheme” in relation to organ donation in some countries, and believes that a similar set-up could be put in place for being registered on the Register of Electors.
Congress therefore mandates
The VP Equality and Citizenship to explore the possibility for the introduction of automatic voter registration for all elections and referenda, with the inclusion of an “opt-out” scheme, and to make proposals backing such to the appropriate Government department.
the USI Officerboard and Member Unions for their successful Voter Registration Drive which saw over 20,000 students registered.
that this effort not only enfranchised mass numbers of students but was also an effective political engagement exercise for Unions and was a signal of our collective democratic strength.
Congress however believes
that the system of voter registration is complicated, outdated and disenfranchises those not automatically on the Voter Register.
Congress therefore mandates
the Vice-President for Equality & Citizenship to lobby the Minister and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to automatically register citizens when they reach the age of voting eligibility.
Congress further mandates
that until such a system is introduced, USI Officerboard is required to run an annual national Voting Registration Drive alongside Member Unions.
Congress notes that as we head into the next academic year we are facing into a general election
Congress is concerned at the low level of political engagement among young people in Ireland with a National Youth Council of Ireland Survey of 1,020 young people finding:
Only 71.2% of young people aged 18-25 were registered to vote
Only 64% of young people between 18-21 years of age were registered to vote
Only 20% of young people have ever had personal communication with their local T.D./Councillor
Congress acknowledges the excellent work done by USI and MO’s this year and welcomes the estimated figure of 20,000 students who are now registered thanks to the registration drive held in the early part of this academic year.
Congress believes that students are not fully informed of their rights when it comes to voting with not many knowing that students who study away from home are entitled to a postal vote.
Congress further believes that USI Policy 14 /CZN 2 did well as a comprehensive motion to create a voter registration campaign, however USI now needs to create an informational campaign on voting rights.
Congress therefore mandates that the USI Vice President for Campaigns and the USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship should create a comprehensive informational campaign template to be rolled out in MO’s that explains the voting process, including Postal Voting, PR-STV, polling station ID requirements and other such relevant information.
Congress also mandates that the campaign should attempt to work on this campaign in conjunction with the National Youth Council of Ireland, the ISSU and any other organisation deemed appropriate by National Council.
That General Election will happen in the next 18 months with the likelihood of a new Government.
Congress also notes
This is an opportunity for USI to lobby and assure students’ interests are provided for in the next program for Government
Congress therefore mandates
The VP for Campaigns, in conjunction with the USI President, to write ‘the Student Manifesto’ to highlight USI’s key demands from political parties.
Congress also mandates
The VP for Campaigns, in conjunction with the USI President, to write ‘the Student Guide to the General Election’ which will inform the general student body on the election relevant to student issues and interests.
The historic success of this year’s voter registration efforts, on the part of both USI and individual MOs, in advance of the marriage equality and other referendums taking place in May.
The considerable logistical difficulties faced by USI, individual Students’ Unions as well as other activist organisations, throughout both this year and previous years, in navigating the current Irish voter registration process as established by the Electoral Act 1992.
A number of significant problems arising from the current system which specifically disadvantage those of temporary or changing abode (such as students), which include but are not limited to: the a wholly decentralised system with practice deviating widely between individual County Councils; a primary RFA form that registers households and not individuals; and a complete lack of clarity regarding the date of referendums.
The pre-election commitment from Fine Gael to convene an Electoral Commission to examine national practice on matters of election and referendum, which has yet to be fulfilled.
Congress Therefore Mandates:
The VP for Equality and Citizenship along with Officer Board to carry out a targeted lobbying campaign, focused on the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, seeking meaningful reform of this registration system towards one less susceptible to human error and more user-friendly, online-based and ultimately automated.
Congress Further Mandates:
This campaign to be formulated and conducted by a Working Group, encompassing input of those with expertise on the relevant legislation and past experience of voter registration efforts, to be convened at the first National Council of the academic year 2015/16.