UCD SU President forcibly removed from Nancy Pelosi event over "Zionist and war criminal" comments

Martha Ní Riada was thrown out of a university event as Nancy Pelosi received an honorary degree.

Martha Ní Riada, who was thrown out of a Nancy Pelosi event, stands in front of a crowd of people with a megaphone. Palestinian flags are being held by the crowd.
Image: @MarthaReidy via X

President of the University College Dublin (UCD) Students’ Union Martha Ní Riada was thrown out of an event honouring Nancy Pelosi, after shouting “Pelosi is a Zionist and war criminal”. The former speaker for the US House of Representatives visited the UCD campus on Monday, April 22, to receive the Sutherland Leadership Award, an Honorary Degree, and The James Joyce Award at a Gala Dinner.

The event was held in O’Reilly Hall and hosted by Ireland INC with support from KPMG. It included over 600 international, political and social leaders.

According to reports, Nancy Pelosi received the UCD award “in recognition of an outstanding contribution to leadership and public life in a career spanning four decades”. However, the US politician has recently been criticised after calling for the investigation of pro-Palestinian protesters and implying they have connections to Russia.

Due to this, the UCD Students’ Union, UCD BDS, and Mothers Against Genocide protested her visit. Demonstrators on campus could be heard chanting: “Nancy Pelosi, Out, Out, Out,” and “Nancy Nancy, you’re a plague, you belong in The Hague.”


Martha was one of the students who opposed Nancy Pelosi receiving the UCD award and vocalised her opposition in O’Reilly Hall.

In a video taken from inside the building, Nancy Pelosi is seen to be interrupted by Martha as she gives her speech. Martha stands up to shout “Pelosi is a Zionist and a war criminal” and is immediately surrounded by men in suits and removed from the room with force.

As she is being dragged away she continues to use her voice, adding “You said that support for Israel is in our DNA – no it’s not! What about Palestinian women?”

Pelosi did not address the comments and continued with her speech as planned.  

Martha took to X to explain her view of what happened during the event at UCD, stating: “I was thrown out with excessive force from Nancy Pelosi’s honorary doctorate of law @ucddublin earlier today for representing the views of students as @UCDSU President. Why does UCD continue to platform Zionist warmongers whilst silencing students?”

The post included videos of her confrontation with Nancy Pelosi and pictures of her red arm after being dragged away by Gardaí and UCD security.


Speaking to GCN, Martha stated: “UCD students and staff have been clear in their support for Palestine with numerous on-campus demonstrations and actions since October. The decision by the University to celebrate a warmonger and genocide enabler is not reflective of the views of the student body and it was my intention to make clear to Pelosi that as students we denounce this honorary doctorate.

“Pelosi was hailed by the University as a feminist who broke barriers for women, however, through her ongoing support for the genocide of Palestinian men, women, and children, it is clear that her feminism only extends to white, middle-class women and should not be celebrated,” she concluded.

Martha, a queer student representative, has a history of advocating for local and international communities. She was the Education Officer for her class last year, and campaigned for academic policy changes and the abolition of resit fees.

In an Instagram post, she stated that her goal for this year as the UCD Students’ Union President is to “lead a strong Union which pushes the student voice to the forefront, from engaging with University management and faculty to lobbying on a national level. We will harness the power of our membership of over 30,000 students by bringing the Union to students and making consistent, incremental change.”



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A post shared by UCD Students’ Union (@ucdsu)

This comes as students around the world continue to protest Israel’s war on Gaza. At present, over 30,000 Palestinians, including 13,000 children have been killed since October 2023. Thousands more are missing and the majority of people have been forcibly displaced. The healthcare system in the region has been destroyed and thousands of aid trucks have been blocked from entering by Israeli authorities.

At Columbia University in New York, more than 100 students were arrested as, alongside faculty, they demonstrated against the institution’s Israel-related investments. Similarly, 120 protesters were arrested at New York University, 47 were arrested at Yale, nine were arrested at the University of Minnesota and two were arrested at Ohio State University.

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