Feb 23, 2024

Empower the Voice Protest Nathan Harrington’s Mockery of Marginalised Groups

The Dublin chapter of Empower the Voice protested TCDSU Welfare candidate Nathan Harrington ahead of today’s Media Hustings.

Sáoirse GoesDeputy Editor
Photo by Esme Dunne

The Dublin chapter of Empower the Voice today staged a demonstration in protest of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Welfare and Equality candidate Nathan Harrington. 

The group wrote a series of messages in chalk on the blackboard in the Thomas Davis lecture hall ahead of the media hustings on Friday afternoon. The message claimed “Nathan Harrington uses his platform to mock marginalised groups” and “he thinks queer sex ed is a laughing matter”. 

Empower the Voice cited Harrington’s use of “disableds” in his manifesto and the pronouns being listed as “per/ve” in his Instagram bio. They further criticised the candidate’s answer in the Council and Equality Hustings, where Harrington expressed his desire to give chocolate to his “homies”, believing it “would go further than a lump sum to a foodbank” or to provide financial aid for transgender students. 


The demonstration comes as part of Empower the Voice’s ‘chalkback’ campaign, which they started last November, where the group go around the streets of Dublin, writing theirs and their followers’ experiences being harassed on the streets and in various institutions in the city. 

In a statement to The University Times, a representative from Empower the Voice affirmed their ethos as “a platform that works to amplify marginalised voices”. Explaining the motivations behind their chalking, the statement continued, “From what we have seen from Nathan Harrington, we believe that he is using his platform to mock the very voices we hope to empower”.

The statement condemned the candidate’s use of pronouns on his Instagram page, noting “we believe that this not only acts to mock the very nature of using pronouns and undermines the normalisation of the practice”. 

“We all use pronouns, no matter our gender or sexuality”, the statement said, further criticising Harrington for evoking “the demonisation of trans people as predators, which is a dangerous notion, especially at a time when the very existence of trans people is so threatened”. 

Empower the Voice further stress their use of direct quotation from Harrington, arguing that “this attitude is born out of unchecked privilege – food banks are not a joke, and neither are the people that use them”. 

The group condemn Harrington’s “disgusting” use of “disableds” to refer to disabled students, pointing towards “his making the subject of queer sex education a laughing matter”.

Speaking to Harrington’s manifesto point of implementing a “free the nipple” week on campus while putting up shower curtains in men’s bathrooms, Empower the Voice underscore their belief that “he is co-opting a feminist movement for his own unsettling male gaze, prioritising the dignity of men, and the objectification of people of marginalised genders”.

In a statement to The University Times, Harrington “apologise[d] unreservedly for any upset I’ve caused”. He iterated that his campaign is “not one of hatred”. He claims: “I really do just want to hand out chocolates on campus, and I think that writing such disgusting and defamatory things about me hoping to catch me by surprise and upset me at the hustings was a terribly low blow and totally uncalled for”. 

Harrington affirms: “I am not a homophobe, nor am I an ableist, marginalised group basher”. He further mentions that he has friends and members of his campaign team which “include many members of various marginalised groups who have expressed shock and disgust at this stunt”. 

The Welfare candidate accepts that he was “wrong to use the term disableds”. Harrington also appealed to Empower the Voice in his statement, requesting that “the activist group in question reach out to me via the appropriate and publicly available channels before trying to kick me in the balls”.

Harrington further expressed that he is “devasted ” but reiterated that he “can’t and won’t let this take away from [his] campaign of love and inclusivity, which will continue onward”. 

The candidate did not comment about the pronouns stated on his Instagram, which can still be found on his bio.

The University Times has reached out to the Electoral Commission for comment. 

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