Referendum 2013: A Snapshot

By Matthew Mulligan
Online Editor

I went out to ask Trinity students about their thoughts on voting. We all know voting always happens on a weekday; some think it’s an attempt to disenfranchise students and some travel home just to vote.


Damien McClean – SF Theoretical Physics
Do you plan on voting today?
I’m voting tonight when I get home, I’m going up to my home town just to vote. I’m going to vote no I think that we shouldn’t abolish the Seanad but the majority will vote to abolish the Seanad. Not a great idea to give more power to the Dáil. In Denmark they’ve one house but they’ve like, 12 parties to compete so we have to have something to keep the Dáil in check.
You’re going all the way home to vote, d’ya think there’s anything that could be done to make it easier for students to vote?
Well if they could have police officers or something come into college to have people register to vote – I know there’re students who actually haven’t registered. They had one in Trinity the other day but if they could have more publicity about that they could get more people in.
How do you think the results of the SU Referendum on the Seanad affect how people will think of Trinity?
I think Trinity students will vote not to abolish the Seanad; I think the reasons were explained to us well during the referendum which might not have been extended to the general public. We had two campaigns teams so maybe we’ve gotten more information about it.
Do you think students care?
I think they should care, it really does affect them. Students are concerned with cuts in education and things like that but they don’t see the disconnect [sic] between that and actually voting in the real elections so if they voted in the real elections they could make their voices heard.

Grace de Bláca – SF World Religions & Theology with Film Studies
Are you voting today?
I have not voted, I plan on voting this evening.
Do you think there’s anything the government can do to get students more active being voting?
I actually have to go home the opposite way to my mum’s house and that’s kind of stressful, it’d be better if you could vote in college or online or something.
Tweet it in.
Tweet it in yeah, tweet yo’ vote!
What do you think of Trinity students voting not to abolish the Seanad in their referendum?
I think the people who did vote would probably have been politically aware and a lot of people would feel that there shouldn’t be too much power in one house of parliament. But not surprised. Also we have David Norris, so.
Do you think that might reinforce some stereotypes about Trinity elitism?
Yeah probably, I think a lot of people would interpret what Trinity have done in the wrong way. I’d say people voted for really definite reasons they had themselves.


Michael Santillan – JS Sociology Social Policy
Are you voting today?
I want to vote, but I can’t because I don’t have an Irish passport so I can’t really vote.
Do you think the government could extend certain voting privileges to different categories of people living here?
I think they should, it should still be limited in a way but…we are living here and we are part of Ireland.
And when you graduate you’d be able to vote in the Seanad elections, s’weird. Did you vote in the SU Referendum?
I did actually yeah. I voted yes.
Do you think many did or is there some apathy among students?
I think a lot of students are apathetic but there are some who are extremely invested and interested about it.
Are you surprised that Trinity students voted not to abolish the Seanad in the SU Referendum?
To be honest with you, not really.

Robert Milling – JS Physiology

Are you voting today?

I have voted yeah.

Do you think there’ll be a good turnout for the referendum?
Not in terms of students.
Do you think students are apathetic?
Definitely but there are also things like students who live in the country and go to college having to go back and vote, that’s not really accessible. In my experience this morning there were zero young people in my polling station and I’d say that’s really common around the country.
Do you think students were engaged with the SU Referendum?
I think there was apathy to be honest. Out of the entire student body only what, like 3,000 people voted? That’s really not good enough. I feel like students are in a kind of bubble and they don’t think these issues will affect them but they will and it’s really important.


David Costigan – SF Chemistry with Molecular Modelling
Are you voting today?
Not yet. I wasn’t able to register.
Do you think there’s anything to be done that could help with that?
I think they should make it a lot more obvious when the deadline to register to vote is. I only found out a day or so after the deadline expired that where it was I was supposed to register. Also for changing addresses, it was quite difficult to do online but at least I’m registered for the next time.
Are you surprised that Trinity students voted to campaign for Seanad reform?
Not really, I do see that the Seanad is an important part of democracy I do think it would be best for us to reform it rather than to just abolish it. I’m quite happy with the fact that the SU is taking that kind of stance. I personally wouldn’t go that way but I do think it’s right for the SU to take a stance.
Do you think people outside of Trinity might think us wanting to keep the Seanad would show elitism?
Not really, I don’t think people would go that far, especially since it’s the students who made that decision not the actual body of Trinity deciding it. I don’t think it’d give any view of elitism or uppityness for Trinity.


Gráinne Dalton – JF English (former SF Nursing)
Are you voting today?
Normally I really do make an effort to vote but I couldn’t for this referendum.
Was voting accessible to you?
It was really hard to find the time today with lectures and college and basically it would involve me having to go a different direction on a different bus and I was super busy this morning and I had loads of things I had to do in college and town today.
Is there anything do you think could be done to make voting more accessible?
Voting online, online voting is definitely something that could help and not to hold the referendum on a weekday as well – it was really hard to do it today.
Did you vote in the SU referendum?
Yeah I did, I voted for marriage equality and the class reps but I felt the Seanad referendum was a bit pointless with the voting day being so soon after the results would be counted.
Do you think there’s apathy amongst students in general or just for that particular referendum?
No I think there generally is apathy, I think there’s probably like 20% who get super involved in politics even in the SU and there’s an 80% who let it just go on by. I definitely would have experienced that last year too. Even things like the SU Seanad Referendum not directly reflecting the actual choices before people today when they’re in polling stations. There’s a lot of semantics.

Matthew Mulligan

Matthew is Editor for the 62nd volume of Trinity News. He is a Sociology and Social Policy graduate and was previously Deputy Editor of tn2 Magazine.