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Katie Ascough: Are you or have you ever been a member of the Iona Institute?

Are you or have you ever been a member of the Iona Institute? Are you or have you ever been associated with The Iona Institute? These were basically the questions hurled at Katie Ascough in two student papers hailing her ‘impeachment’ last week as President of the Students’ Union at UCD. Need I labour the point that there are strong shades of McCarthyism here?

The leader writer in Trinity’s University Times breathlessly intoned [1]: “And not only is Ascough ardently pro-life, but has familial ties to the Iona Institute, a Catholic lobby group that is surely as close to the antithesis of the student movement as one could find.” (Here at Iona we believe in such outrageous things as the right of a child to be born rather than killed in the womb, and in the right of that same child to be raised by its biological parents when possible).

In a similar vein, UCD’s University Observer said [2]: “The IONA institute has campaigned against marriage equality and for saving the Eighth. They have previously opposed civil partnerships and the possibility of the scrapping of the clause in the Employment Equality Act 2000 that allows religious institutions to discriminate against staff who do not uphold their religious ethos. Those involved in student politics should denounce any connection to such an institution if they wish to represent all students.”

Yes, that’s right, running for a students’ union means you must denounce Iona. Nothing less will do if, like the members of Mao’s Red Guard, you wish to demonstrate your ideological purity.

For good measure, the University Observer warned its readers not to read columns by members of The Iona Institute: “At this time it may be suggested that you avoid reading the articles of columnists who are part of the IONA institute.” Reading us might corrupt the aforementioned ideological purity.

The editorial then warns its readers to beware of Katie because of who her parents are: “However, many people inside and outside of UCD are not aware of the issues that made some students wary of her position as president from the beginning. Katie Ascough may not be her parents, but their position within the IONA institute should be a cause for concern to anyone.”

Actually, it is only Katie’s father, Tom, who is involved with Iona. Perhaps she ought to have publicly denounced him, in the manner of the young members of the aforementioned Red Guard who were outraged at their parents’ anti-revolutionary beliefs.

Both editorials in effect confirmed that Katie was ‘impeached’ first and foremost because of her views. You cannot be a pro-life Catholic and an officer of a students’ union, you must be purged. She was not really impeached, because impeachment involves some semblance of due process which Katie was denied.

The two editorials demonstrate that student unions are to their last strand of DNA ultra left-wing bodies that cannot tolerate a contrary point of view and therefore cannot possibly represent all students. What happened to Katie Ascough proves this in full.

In closing, let’s note that the University Observer believes Katie was not bullied. But if the vitriol, bile, the foul abuse that came her way was not bullying, then what is?

(The cartoon above is from the Chattanooga Times Free Press).