Lorna Fitzpatrick re-elected USI President at online congress

Fitzpatrick, running unopposed, received 95% of the vote

Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) President Lorna Fitzpatrick has been re-elected for a second term, securing 95% of the vote in an uncontested race. 

Fitzpatrick received 193 votes from delegates, with 9 votes seeking to re-open nominations.

During an online hustings on Monday, Fitzpatrick engaged with questions on student levies, direct provision, campaigns, and entry to third level education for this year’s Leaving Certificate students. In a statement to delegates, Fitzpatrick identified access to education, housing, and abolishing the direct provision system as key issues which she believed USI should “be the voice of students on”.

Voting in the USI elections took place remotely as part of a three-day online event in place of the union’s in-person annual national congress due to social distancing restrictions. Candidates in all races were elected on the first count.

Kevin McStravock was re-elected for a second term to his role as Vice-President for Academic Affairs with 90% of the vote, securing the position over contender Fergal Twomey, who received 7% of the vote. 

McStravock is a graduate of Ulster University. In his manifesto, he prioritised lobbying for access to higher education, working towards obtaining a national student partnership agreement, and supporting students on professional courses. Questioned at the hustings on students studying abroad, he expressed  that “Erasmus mobility” will be among one of the most pressing issues for students this year and that they need to “make sure there is access to Erasmus for all students in Ireland”.

Claire Austick, the current President of the National University of Ireland Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU), was elected Vice-President for Welfare with 86.5%, while her contender Ruairí Weiner attracted 10.5% of the votes. 

Austick wants to ensure there are “regular check-ins” with officers so that  they have the tools to support students, whether in regards to accommodation, stress, or online learning.

In the race for Vice-President for Campaigns, Craig McHugh, the union’s current Vice-President for the Dublin Region, was elected with 76%, securing the position over Trinity’s Aodhán Donnelly, who secured 17.8% of the votes.

Craig McHugh is a student in Dublin City University (DCU) and has worked in many campaigns, such as the “Raise the Roof” campaign. He spoke at hustings on Monday, and outlined the importance of speaking “to people in language that they understand to truly democratise your movement”. Speaking on the nature of the pandemic, McHugh explained how the current pandemic has “given us the opportunity to think about how we can do things differently”, especially where protests can be moved “online”. He expressed how this is a great opportunity to “be creative”.

Marie Lyons, the current USI Vice-President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region, gained 96.5% of the vote as the sole candidate for Vice-President for Equality and Citizenship.

Lyons spoke at hustings on Monday, explaining that the moving of existing USI events online has already occurred, including a webinar series, and that the team would hope “to continue that next year”.

Adam Clarke was elected Vice-President for Postgraduate Affairs with 90.5% of the vote, gaining a total of 182 votes in his uncontested race. 

At hustings on Monday, Clarke stated that he wishes to “establish and build upon existing postgraduate networks within campuses” and to be there regularly “by phone” or “by email”. He wants to ensure that postgraduate officers are communicating with postgraduate students to “ensure they are settling in”. 

Clíodhna Ní Dhufaigh received the highest proportion of votes of any uncontested candidate with 97.5%. Running uncontested in the race for Leas-Uachtaran don Ghaelige, Ní Dhufaigh has been elected to her second term in the position. 

Speaking over the livestreamed hustings, she outlined her plan to engage with the #Gaelige4All campaign, which is aimed at providing support to anyone struggling to learn Irish. 

Megan O’Neill of Technological University of Dublin Students’ Union was elected Vice-President for the Dublin Region with 71% of the vote, having ran against Dean Murphy of  the National College of Ireland Students’ Union. 

O’Neill, of Technology University Dublin’s Students’ Union (TUDSU), and spoke earlier in the week about how she plans to create a strategic plan on “ways in which we can adapt to post-Covid-19”. She mentioned that this will include meetings online. 

Running unopposed, Ciara Kealy was elected Vice-President for the Southern Region with 80%, while Gary Tobin was elected Vice-President for the Border, Midlands and Western Region with 82%. 

Kealy is the current Deputy President and Campaigns Officer of University College Cork Students’ Union and spoke about her plans to offer support to unions in Institutes of Technology (ITs) undergoing mergers, while Tobin is a student in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. Speaking at hustings, Tobin expressed that the most important job for the regional vice-president is to facilitate an environment for union officers to grow.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland is the current Editor of Trinity News. She was an English Literature and Sociology student, and a former Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the News Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Fresh English and Philosophy student.