Queen’s University Students’ Union from the 1970s until at least the mid 1990s suffered from extremely divided student politics. It even reached the stage that the Northern Bank was excluded from Freshers’ Fair; whilst assorted IRA members were made honorary life members and a number of members of the executive went on after graduation to gaol for IRA terrorist offences.(one popped back up again recently as a Deputy Headteacher) Bizarrely they also voted to ban Nestle products from the Students’ Union shop but never acted on that ban as it would have lost them lucrative sales.
In the mid 1990s in a bid to reduce the tensions, assuage the unionist chill factor in the Union and reduce the negative publicity the university brought in outside consultants. They recommended changes which were implemented by the university authorities over the heads of the Union.
More recently there has been less negative publicity about QUB Students’ Union. Now, however, in what looks like a bid to get back to the glory days of sectarian animosity there is a proposal from a Sinn Fein member to ban selling poppies in the Student’s Union:
“This Council, therefore, instructs the VP [vice-president] Equality & Diversity and the Union President to end the sale of poppies in the Students’ Union to provide an end to political sponsorship of the Poppy Appeal, in the name of peace, inclusivity and progressivism.”
Unionist parties at the university have clearly opposed the move as have the SDLP.
Ulster Unionist Lisburn councillor Alex Redpath said he was “really disappointed” by the motion. Mr Redpath, who was speaker of the students’ council in 2010, said he believed it has become a “less accepting” place.
“This sort of petty sectarianism has been displayed in the past by the University of Ulster Students’ Union and the UUP’s Youth Wing the Young Unionists successfully fought a campaign to stop the ban,” he said
In reference to the article below from Daithi McKay it looks as though Sinn Fein has an “old guard” of young people intent on stirring up sectarian divisions and dragging things backwards.