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#HomeToV8te – support the right to choose in Ireland

NUSUK supports pregnant people’s right to choose.

On Friday 25 May 2018, the people of the Republic of Ireland will have an historic opportunity to change Ireland's strict abortion laws, which are currently upheld in the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution.

NUS-USI has long campaigned for abortion reform in Northern Ireland, and also works with USI (Union of Students in Ireland) to campaign for abortion reform which is specific to the Republic of Ireland (the repeal of the 8th Amendment).

The law which criminalises abortion in Northern Ireland, the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, can be reformed by the ordinary legislative process in Northern Ireland Assembly, or the UK Parliament under direct rule. No referendum is required. Polls and surveys consistently demonstrate that a majority of people in Northern Ireland, regardless of their party political affiliation, support abortion reform.

In the Republic of Ireland, the process is different. The Irish government must hold a referendum to determine whether the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution will be repealed because any change to the Irish constitution must be approved by referendum.

We stand in solidarity with pregnant people in Ireland and are urging students’ unions across the UK to support the #HomeToV8te campaign to enable Irish students studying in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to travel home to vote in the referendum. 

Please see HomeToV8te voter registration FAQs and HomeToV8te campaign guide to find out how your SU can support the campaign. (Welsh version of guide)

Travel bursaries 

We encourage students’ unions that are able to, to set up a travel bursary fund to assist students in covering the cost of their travel home in order to vote in the referendum. SUs will need to consider charity law when setting up any bursary. The issue of societies raising money for another charity is generally accepted if it is clear what the fundraising is for and what other usual safeguards are in place. The risk of the union itself using funds is more complex, although may be possible if there is a clear link for members of the union. The fact in this case the referendum is in a separate sovereign state is clearly a factor. For specific guidance please contact Peter.Robertson@nus.org.uk.

Electoral law in RoI states that an individual can accept a political ‘donation’ of up to €126.97 - approximately £110 - before they have to register as a ‘third party’. In turn, third parties cannot accept overseas donations. This is therefore the limit that a students’ union - alone, or in conjunction with NUS funds - may grant to any individual student (see here for further information on the legislation).

NUS has also set up a travel bursary fund that students’ unions can apply to in order to subsidise their own funds. We will match fund students’ unions contributions towards individual students’ travel up to a maximum of £55 per student. For small and under-resourced unions a higher subsidy, up to a maximum of £110 per student, may be possible.

To apply please complete this form and return to Laura.Stobo@nistudents.org

Further information about the HomeToVote campaign in RoI is available at www.hometovote.com.