On the 6th and 7th of March there was a referendum in UCC for students. It stated: “Should UCC Students’ Union campaign in favour of a United Ireland? Students were asked to give a “Yes” or “No” response to the motion. The campaign manager was Kate Kelly, who led a committee and although members of this committee were affiliated to various political parties, this group was strictly non-partisan.
We brought this campaign to a referendum to UCC students as we felt the issue of Irish unity should be addressed by our Students’ union. As a result of the campaign our Students’ union is now mandated to campaign for a United Ireland. We see it as a necessity that our Students’ Union recognises issues and campaigns from an all-Ireland perspective. We felt that the only way students’ needs can truly be addressed is by firstly achieving the Ireland we want to live in – one based on equality and fairness. This can only be realized by the reunification of Ireland. Now the Students’ union can begin to bring the issue of Irish unity to the discussion table, and begin to lobby on behalf of student’s who voted in favour of Irish unity.
The referendum was held in conjunction with the UCC Students’ Union annual student elections. 3949 votes were cast from a student population of nearly 19,000. The “Yes” response received 63% of the total votes.
Within a week UCC, UCD and NUIG referendums for Irish Unity have passed resoundingly.
The 1916 Societies as a group take great inspiration for the students in Cork and other Universities around the Country that have campaigned and held similar referendums with great effect.
This sort of grassroots activism, in where students organise proactive campaigns at their own behest, has been to the forefront of social agitation and core to securing the rights of the oppressed in anti-imperialist struggle down through the decades. As seen in the African American Civil rights movement as well as the Civil Rights movement here in Ireland in the Six Counties and the fight for civil rights in the Gaeltacht, ‘Gluaiseacht na Gaeltachta’.
The 1916 Societies have been campaigning for past number of years for an ‘All Ireland Referendum on Irish Unity’ in which the island of Ireland vote as one unit and without outside influence from those with no mandate on this island. Rather than the ‘Border Poll’ as proposed by some, in which the island is segregated long partitionist lines and vote is gerrymandered in favor of the Unionist minority on the island.
So it is refreshing to see others strike up similar initiatives, we hope this sort of campaigning garners a lot more momentum and a more comprehensive ‘National Campaign’ is formed of the back of this for ‘National Self Determination’.