UCC becomes first university in Ireland to launch network for LGBTQ+ allies

The Proud Ally Student Network aims to educate and empower people to effectively support the queer community.

Image from the launch of the new UCC network for LGBTQ+ allies. Seven people are pictured side-by-side smiling and looking directly at the camera.
Image: Max Bell UCC

University College Cork (UCC) has become the first higher education institution in Ireland to establish a network for LGBTQ+ allies. The new initiative officially launched at an event on Wednesday, October 18, with the aim of educating and empowering people to effectively support the queer community.

Led by UCC’s Graduate Attributes Programme, the Proud Ally Student Network will work towards ending discrimination and promoting equality through advocacy. It will host events and training opportunities, in addition to providing online resources exploring how to become a better ally and the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Ireland.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, compassion, and integrity. It is our responsibility be effective global citizens who recognise and challenge inequality and are socially responsible,” UCC President Professor John O’Halloran said.

“To be a Proud Ally we need to educate ourselves on the challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face, and spend some time reflecting on who we are, what matters to us, and how we respond to different situations in our lives. We need to understand, acknowledge, and challenge our own prejudices.

“Through this network, we aim to help make our campus an even more inclusive, warm, and welcoming place,” Professor O’Halloran concluded.

Adel Coleman, Graduate Attributes Programme Manager, stated: “A recent report by Belong To highlights that 76% of LGBTQ+ secondary school students don’t feel safe at school. These are the students who arrive each year at UCC, and who deserve to feel safe and valued in university. It is our responsibility as Proud Allies to create a welcoming and inclusive environment in UCC.

“The fight for equality did not end with the marriage referendum, it is continuing. And the reality that society can pull back on the work done to date is a very real threat. That is why we need initiatives like this in our Higher Education Institutions- to highlight that it is everyone’s responsibility to be a Proud Ally.”


Responding to the new network, chair of the university’s LGBTQ+ student society, Brian O’Kane, commented: “In my four years of being Queer at UCC, I can say from the bottom of my heart I’ve never known truer allies than Adel, Clodagh and Maggie from the Graduate Attributes Programme.

O’Kane, who is also an LGBTQ+ representative for the UCCSU Equality Working Group, added, “Thank you for speaking in spaces where we cannot be heard. It has meant the world to us.”

To learn more and become a Proud Ally, visit ucc.ie/proudally.

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