USI votes to boycott the Irish Times alongside Trans Writers' Union

The nationwide union has cut communication with the newspaper in response to a conversion therapy op-ed.

Students gathering at the 2022 Student Union Congress voting for a motion to boycott The Irish Times

Following the 2022 Comhdháil on Tuesday, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) voted to boycott the Irish Times. They will no longer give comments or interviews due to the newspaper’s op-ed from last August: “Bill to ban conversion therapy poses problems for therapists.”

The Trans Writers’ Union boycotted the newspaper in November for platforming “anti-Trans rhetoric.” The union had previously demanded that the Irish Times withdraw and apologise for the article, as well as take practical steps to create a “Trans-inclusive editorial line.”

During the debate, several had raised their concerns about the increasing anti-Trans sentiments in UK and Irish media amidst the conversion therapy ban. Jenny Maguire, the LGBTQ+ Rights Officer at the Trinity College Dublin Student’s Union, stated that their coverage of Trans issues “directly led to an increased scrutiny of trans people in their day to day [lives].”

Maguire also expressed that the Irish Times’ criticism of Trans people is no different from that of UK media. “I, as a Trans woman, am not up for debate”, she said. “It is incredibly naive … to think that the Irish media will not go the way of the British press.”

A procedural vote for the boycott was set in motion before the speaker’s list had finished. Beth O’Reilly, Vice President for campaigns and student presidential candidate said, “Most people in the room know their opinions on this [already].”

USI Congress stated in their motion that “the student movement on the island of Ireland exists to promote and defend the rights of all students studying across third-level colleges and this extends to that of all transgender students.” 

The USI and Trans Writers’ Union acknowledged the risks in boycotting a prestigious institution like the Irish Times. Some unions spoke against the boycott, saying that it was not the best way to empower Trans students. Fionn Collins, a Trans representative from TU Dublin Students Union, argued that it would be more productive to “change the views of the Irish Times.” 

Séamus Dooley, Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists said, “The freedom not to buy a newspaper is a matter of individual choice. Boycotts by retail outlets deny consumers that choice.”

However, others have expressed their support for USI and the Trans Writers’ Union’s decision to boycott the Irish Times. The Anti Conversion Therapy Coalition, IADT Student’s Union, and the Labour Youth have announced their unanimous vote to boycott the Irish Times.


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