The Union of Students in Ireland’s (USI) congress has passed a motion mandating the vice president for campaigns and the USI executive team to engage in deplatforming and counter protests against those who espouse fascist ideology.
The motion also mandates the president to invest resources into protecting vulnerable and marginalised students.
Speaking in favour of the motion, Luke Daly of Technological University Dublin Students’ Union (TUDSU) said: “There is a group who has been growing over the years that we have not done our due diligence with. Unfortunately some of those people have made it into this movement. Unfortunately some of those people have made it into this virtual room. Unfortunately some of these people will be voting against this motion today.”
“These are people who cannot be ignored anymore because we have ignored them and we have seen them running for elections more and more around this country. We have seen them gaslighting and gatekeeping people who are mentally exhausted into fascist ideologies with anti-mask, anti-vax and anti-lockdown so that their message spreads quicker.”
“We are duly battling two battles with COVID-19, the virus itself and the explosion of fascism in this country.”
Also speaking in favour of the motion, William McCabe of NUI Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU) said: “We are here to protect and advocate for the rights of our students. We do not want to debate the rights of these students, these students’ rights are not up for debate. We are here to vindicate those rights.”
Concluding in favour of the motion, NUIGSU’s Welfare and Equality Officer Róisín Nic Lochlainn said: “The rise of the far-right and the increasing racist sentiment that comes with it is one of the most concerning issues in society at the moment.”
“Pretending that fascism can somehow be defeated through rational debate treats fascism as just another political idea, just another policy whose merits can be disproved through rational discourse.”
“Fascists argue in bad faith. They do not reason their views logically”, she said. “Their ideas fall outside the normal levels of discourse and are explicitly based on emotions and fear.”
USI congress – as part of the motion – stated its belief that fascism “actively harms minority groups, progressive movements, and grassroots community equity campaigns by any means available, using the guise of political stances to protect itself from de-platforming and rejection from societal based values”.
The congress also mandated the vice president for campaigns, the executive team and the president’s working group to “work with Organizations, Member Organizations and the relevant Executive Team officers to ensure training for officers in de-escalation, deplatforming and rejection of fascism is rolled out to all officers during key-training sessions.”