Trinity veteran activist Conchuir Ó Raidaigh has announced his candidacy for the upcoming general election.
Ó Raidaigh will be running as a People Before Profit candidate in Dublin North West. Making the announcement on Twitter this evening, Ó Raidaigh said: “It’s gonna be a hell of a fight up against the establishment parties but with strong support from friends + comrades, we can do it!”
Ó Raidaigh, a research assistant in Trinity, has been at the forefront of student activism in recent years, with involvement in housing, Palestinian-solidarity and workers rights campaigns. He was formerly treasurer of Trinity People Before Profit and involved with Dublin-based housing movement Take Back the City.
Speaking to Trinity News following the announcement, Ó Raidaigh said: “I’m running in this election to give voice to the voiceless, to challenge the cruelty of the system we live under and to be, in the words of James Connolly, ‘a disturber of the political peace’.”
He continued: “From the housing crisis to the climate emergency and the rise of the racist right we face massive challenges in Ireland and around the world. One thing is certain, the present system has got to go. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been in power for the better part of a century, it’s time to break the cycle and build a movement for a better, fairer Ireland that can be a beacon of hope around the world.”
“Dublin North West, which includes Ballymun and Finglas, where I’m from, was gutted by austerity. We have yet to see any sign of the ‘recovery’ that establishment politicians are so quick to talk about. We deserve better, it’s time for change.”
Ó Raidaigh, who will run under his English-language name Conor Reddy, has established a GoFundMe page to raise money for his election campaign. On the fundraising page, he referred to his election as an “alternative to the self-serving political establishment that has given us the housing crisis, chaos in the health service, austerity and growing inequality”.
He said that his campaign will be driven by “grassroots activists and local people who believe in what I stand for,” adding that “unlike other candidates, I don’t have the backing of a big political machine, or funding from wealthy donors”. Ó Raidaigh has raised over €1,000 through the GoFundMe page so far.
Housing has been a primary focus of Ó Raidaigh’s activism. In September, he co-founded the Cut the Rent TCD group, which called for on-campus and Trinity Hall students to participate in a rent strike. In 2018, he was among several protesters arrested for occupying a house on North Frederick Street as part of the Take Back the City campaign against the housing crisis.
In October he co-founded Trinity’s PhD workers rights group, which aimed to advocate for the recognition and protection of working rights of PhD students in Trinity and other Irish universities.
He was heavily involved in the successful Take Back Trinity campaign, in which students blocked Front Arch and the Book of Kells entrance and occupied the Dining Hall in protest against the introduction of a €450 supplemental exam fee.
Ó Raidaigh has also been involved in the Trinity campaign to support the Boycott, Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement. In 2017, he proposed a motion to Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council which called for a college-wide boycott of Israel and the creation a student led Palestinian solidarity campaign. The motion failed, but a referendum on BDS that Ó Raidaigh assisted in instigating passed a year later.
Ó Raidaigh was also present at a protest against a visit to Trinity by Israel’s ambassador to Ireland Ze’ev Boker in 2017, which led to the cancellation of the event.
Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week earlier today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that he has made a decision on a general election date, but will not reveal it before speaking to Cabinet on Tuesday.