The current Education and Ents Officers of Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) have launched Union of Students (USI) Ireland election campaigns.
Education Officer Megan O’Connor is running for the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs while Ents Officer Hugh McInerney is running for Vice President for the Dublin region.
Former member of Oifigeach na Gaelige and recent Student Intern in charge of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion project with the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) Muireann Nic Corcráin is running for Leas-Uachtarán don Ghaeilge d’Aontas na Mac Léinn/Vice-President for the Irish Language of USI. Nic Corcráin is currently a Masters student in TCD studying Speech and Language processing.
Speaking to Trinity News, the union members expressed their interest in running for the positions.
O’Connor told Trinity News that she is “running for this position because [she has] loved this work from the minute [she] started [her] journey as a representative”.
“I really want to continue to do this work on a larger scale with USI.”
She highlighted “equity and accessibility, digital learning, partnership and representation, institutional and structural reform, higher education funding and empowerment and provision of information” as her main priorities.
“I wholeheartedly believe in the power of the student movement and currently, we have the potential to influence and re-define the future of higher education in Ireland.”
O’Connor concluded by affirming her commitment to “ensuring a more accessible and inclusive higher education sector for all”.
Speaking to Trinity News, McInerney highlighted that although “Ents Officers don’t normally run for USI positions”, because of Covid-19 he has “worked far closer with [his] TCDSU colleagues on a whole host of issues”. He hopes to “use this experience of representing the 18,000 students in Trinity to be the next USI Vice President for the Dublin region”.
McInerney added that “platforming student concerns, connecting the region and continuing the fight for a modern Ireland” as some of his main policies if elected. McInereny said he will “hold monthly town halls that any of the more than 72,000 students in the Dublin region can attend” and “connecting the region’s sabbatical officers as well as PTOs and class reps would also be a main priority of mine”.
He continued: “The student movement has never been more disconnected as a result of Covid-19.”
McInereny concluded by stating that he would “continue the fight for abolishing third level fees and affordable student housing”.
“Now is the time for a publically funded model of higher education that can transform this country and keep Ireland heading in a new direction.”
Nic Corcráin told Trinity News that, if elected, her “main motivation is to create a more equitable space for students to engage with the Irish language and to support Member Organisations as they strive to bring the language into everyday Student Union life”. She highlighted how her experience in Oifigeach na Gaelige and as NStEP has allied her to “gain an insight into what is truly meant by creating opportunities for students to engage with An Ghaeilge”.
She explained: “The most amazing opportunities were afforded to me because of my involvement with the Irish language. Now it’s time for me to give back to the student movement and create an open and inclusive space for others to get involved with the Irish language community and to fight for accessibility, inclusivity and Irish language rights across the island of Ireland.”
Nic Corcráin highlighted “accessibility and inclusivity” as the “main focus” of her campaign”. She plans to “make the language more accessible for those who have had barriers placed in their way, such as students with disabilities, or anyone whose experience at school level was not the most positive” with her proposed “Hub an Aontais” resource.
She continued to say that she plans to lobby “for Irish language rights across the island of Ireland”. She pointed to continuing campaigns for change on this front such as “ having bilingual signage on campuses in the North and a comprehensive Irish education policy from preschool to university being proposed to the Oireachtas”.
Nic Corcráin concluded: “But we need to push forward and let everyone know that we will not stop fighting and lobbying for the Irish language, no matter what barriers are placed in our way.”
Voting in the USI elections will take place online on April 7.
This article was updated at 8:20pm on 18/03/21 with a statement from O’Connor.