Ó Broin plans to scrap officers in USI campaign

Students’ Union President Cónán Ó Broin has been nominated as a candidate for the Deputy Presidency of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), an organisation he is openly critical of.
Ó Broin is running on an unofficial joint ticket with Presidential candidate and current UCD Students’ Union President, Gary Redmond, although both posts will be elected independently of one another.
Current USI Equality Officer Linda Kelly is also vying to be elected President at the USI Congress, which takes place from 29th March to 1st April.
Both Redmond and Ó Broin support a motion by Students’ Union Presidents to downgrade the full-time role of USI Equality Officer and LGBT Rights Officer to part-time roles within the Union. They also plan to replace the four Area Officers with a single Constituent Organisation Liaison Officer.
Ó Broin says the job description for the role of Equality Officer is “too vague”, failing to impact the life of most students.  The candidate for Deputy President also says that there is no longer “enough policy material” for a full-time LGBT Rights Officer, but says USI-organised Pink Training will continue to be run. 
The job of the USI is “to protect students’ interests”, Ó Broin says, “not to save the world”.
Ó Broin, who describes the current structure of the USI as “woefully inadequate”, will be competing against Southern Area Officer Jono Clifford.
The Trinity Students’ Union Council has mandated its 22 USI delegates to vote “Re-Open Nominations” for the Equality and LGBT Rights Officers and to support any motion to amend these roles, as well as the role of Area Officer, in accordance with Redmond and Ó Broin’s design. UCDSU delegates are also authorised to support such a motion.
Ó Broin considers such restructuring  to be important for generating continuity in the USI.  He argues the employment of a full-time lobbyist, a researcher and an administrator would provide the USI with better value for money than Officers who only serve for a year-long term.
Presidential candidate Linda Kelly also wants to employ an Administrations or Operations Officer and says that her experience within the USI will allow for a degree of continuity which “Gary Redmond can’t offer”.
Kelly, however, is opposed to what she describes as her opponents’ policy of “If we can remove X officer we can employ Y staff,” adding, “I don’t think a permanent strategist or lobbyist is the best use of resources.”
While the “strategic lobbying of key politicians and public bodies” is central to Redmond’s manifesto aim to “end the threat of tuition fees for once and for all”, Kelly says that the USI should not rely too much on hiring lobbyists, pointing out that the enactment of legislation which has already been passed, such as the Student Support Bill, should also be a priority.
While claiming to recognise the “enormous potential” of the USI, which uniquely provides student representation on the Higher Education Authority, Cónán Ó Broin says the USI requires modernisation in order to wield greater political influence. 
He openly criticises USI leadership in the campaign against third-level fees, calling it “not nearly as effective as it could have been”, attributing much of the work done to individual Students’ Unions.
The manifestos of both Presidential candidates lay out plans for developing strong inter-union communications. The role of Liaison Officer, according to Redmond, would be conducive to “getting our Constituent Organisations and members involved in all of the USI’s work”.  Kelly also says “there is a lot to be said for creating a national Liaison Officer”, suggesting that the positions of Area Officer “never fulfilled their potential”.
USI was unable to provide comment on restructuring proposals because they are “a policy decision”.