The members of the next year’s Union of Students’ Ireland (USI) were elected today, marking the last day of Congress. Delegates from each university voted in their students’ unions interests.
The Congress was conducted over Zoom and streamed online via Facebook for the second year in a row amid the on-going coronavirus restrictions.
Clare Austick, the current USI Vice President for Welfare and former National University of Ireland Galway Students Union (NUIGSU) President, said she is “delighted” to have won her uncontested race with 83% of the vote.
She used her speech after the election results were announced to bring attention to how the pandemic has affected students saying “as we look forward to coming out of COVID, we will need to ensure that we focus on student well-being and how the pandemic has impacted students”. “There is a lot to consider whether it’s mental health concerns or the impact on their academic achievements and much more” she continued.
The threat of “marketisation,” the process of third-level institutions becoming increasingly like profit-making businesses, has been a focus of Austick’s throughout her campaign. She has pledged to lobby for increased funding and adequate pay for student nurses.
Current Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) Education Officer, Megan O’Connor was elected as Vice President for Academic Affairs with 93% of the vote.
O’Connor focused on accessibility in her campaign, with policies in her manifesto on alternative access routes to higher education that would make Erasmus exchanges and postgraduate courses more accessible to students with disabilities.
Somhairle Brennan, the President of Institute of Art, Design and Technology Students Union (IADTSU), was successful as the sole candidate for Vice President for Welfare with 87% of the vote.
At several campaign hustings, Brennan highlighted his manifesto promise to bring in a cohesive harm-reduction policy for drugs. He also pledged to promote safe online sexual practices.
Current Commercial and Fundraising Officer of University College Cork Students’ Union (UCCSU) Beth O’Reilly, who also ran uncontested, was elected as USI Vice President for Campaigns with 87% of the vote.
O’Reilly plans to overhaul the union’s social media accounts in order to increase digital engagement with campaigns. She pledged to be on “every platform students use”.
Bukky Adebowale of Maynooth Students Union (MSU) was elected Vice President for Equality & Citizenship with 75% of the vote, triumphing over Luke Daly, Deputy President at Technological University Dublin Students Union(TUDSU), who received 23% of votes cast.
Adebowale is the current Vice-President for Student Life at MSU and claimed to have participated in one of the first Black Lives Matter protests in Dublin in 2015. She placed emphasis on liberation rather than acceptance of minorities in her campaign.
Former TCDSU Oifeagach Na Gaeilge, Muireann Nic Corcráin was elected as Leas-Uachtarán Don Ghaeilge with 48% of the vote. Her opponent, current President of Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union Grian Ní Dhaimhin, received 23% of the vote.
Nic Corcráin pledged to make it easier to live through Irish at the third-level, by creating more opportunities to speak the language. She has also called for the creation of a network of Irish language activists.
Jenna Barry, a current research postgraduate in Information Sciences at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), was elected Vice-President for Postgraduate Affairs in a race where she was the sole candidate. She won 75% of the vote.
Barry brought attention to her research area of virtual intentional communities throughout her campaign and pledged to create an online platform for postgraduates across Ireland.
Caoimhe O’Carroll of Dublin City University Students Union (DCUSU) won the race for Vice-President for the Dublin Region with 60% of the vote. The other candidate Caelainn Kerrigan, President of National College of Art & Design Students Union (NCADSU) received 40% of the vote.
O’Carroll has called for increased amenities on Dublin campuses in her campaign. In hustings during the campaign, she pledged to bring Dublin universities together to fight for common causes.
Victor O’Loughlin of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology Students Union (GMITSU), who also ran unopposed, was elected the Vice-President for the Border, Midlands & Western Region with 72% of the vote.
In the most tightly contested race, John Fortune of Waterford IT Students’ Union (WITSU), was elected Vice President for the Southern Region with 57% of the vote. The other candidate on the ballot, Nuttawud Nutchanat of Munster Technological University Cork Students Union (MTUSU), earned 43% of ballots cast.
The newly elected members of USI will take office over the next month.