By Mairead Cremins
Cónán Ó Broin, a former President of TCD Students’ Union, has stepped down from his position as Deputy President of the Union of Students of Ireland.
The announcement was made last weekend in IT Sligo, where Ó Broin made his farewell speech. “As a result of an offer that has been made to me over the Christmas break which is directly related to the outcome of the General Election, a conflict of interest now exists between my duties and responsibilities as Deputy President of USI and what is in my own personal interest.”
He went on to say, “I have spoken with my family and closest friends about this situation over the past number of weeks and, after much contemplation, the decision which I have come to is that, in the best interest of USI, in the best interest of the COs, in the best interest of the current officer board and in order to allow USI to conduct an unquestionably impartial General Election campaign which is entirely transparent, I will step down as Deputy President of USI”.
The announcement was a source of shock for many and Ó Broin later stated: “I will be working on the General Election Campaign of Cllr. Robert Dowds of the Labour Party in my home constituency of Dublin Mid-West. Election 2011 is going to be one of the most important in Irish history, and Robert Dowds is genuinely one of the most honest, hardworking and honourable people I have ever met. I will be doing everything I can to help him to get elected to the 31st Dáil.”
The former USI Deputy President believes the entire political system is in need of urgent reform, and he wants to be pro-active in bringing that change about. “Over the last 18 months I have been lobbying Government Ministers and TDs of every party on a weekly basis on behalf of students, and my honest opinion after that time is that our political system is broken and needs to be fundamentally reformed. We don’t just need to change who is in Government, we also have to change how Ireland is governed. Only Labour has actually committed to doing that through a coherent policy, and I believe that Eamon Gilmore is the only credible leader who can actually deliver the reform that is so badly needed”, he added.
Ó Broin stresses that it was not a decision that was taken lightly, “I spent weeks talking about this with the closest people in my life and it took many days of quiet contemplation before I was sure of the course of action to take.”
He said that he was sorry he was not finishing out his term, but to do so would “seriously damage the integrity and reputation” of the USI as an organisation.
“I am bowing out of student politics after a year and a half of involvement. It has been a great time in my life, and I will look back with some great memories”, he added.