Lynn Ruane elected first female president of TCDSU in 12 years

news1A tense climax to a night of cheers and tears resulted in Lynn Ruane being elected president of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) last night ahead of closest challenger Conor O’Meara. Ruane, a mature student who campaigned on a platform of access and equality, is the first woman to be elected president since Annie Gatling in 2003. She polled 43% of the vote, gaining the first preference of 2,010 voters. Ruane said afterwards that, despite campus polls indicating she was firm favourite to win, she was still shocked by her victory. “I didn’t think Trinity was ready for me, not at all.” Her closest challenger, Conor O’Meara, received 1,565 (33%) of the total first preference votes. Gabriel Adewusi (580) and Nessan Harpur (460), the other election candidates, were eliminated in the first round, each polling below 15%. A total of 4,765 ballots were cast in the presidential race, compared with 4,111 last year, giving a turnout this year of approximately 40%.

Conor Clancy was elected officer in the hotly-contested welfare race, taking 34.5% of first preference votes and 54% of the vote after redistributions. In the first round, Aoife O’Brien and Louise O’Toole were eliminated with 295 and 290 votes respectively. Liam Mulligan was next eliminated, receiving 1,091 votes. In the final round, Clancy and Muireann Montague received 2,175 and 1,827 votes respectively.

Following, at times, fraught campaigning by the two candidates, Aifric Ni Chriodain was elected communications and marketing officer with 2,792 votes, 61% of the vote. Jemma O’Leary received 1,567 votes.

The closest contest of the night, the election of Ents officer, was won by Katie Cogan with 34% of first preference votes, narrowly beating Conor Parle. David Gray had earlier been eliminated in the second round with 1,477 votes, falling just 18 votes short of Parle’s tally. Cogan, who received 2,151 votes in the final round, is the first female Ents officer to be elected since 2001, and only the fifth in the history of TCDSU. Parle received 1,946 votes.

The unopposed candidates Molly Kenny and Edmund Heaphy were comfortably elected to the positions of education officer and University Times editor respectively, both polling 88% versus re-opening nominations. Kenny received 4,033 votes and Heaphy 3,965.

With there being four female officers elected for 2015-16, there are now more women in sabbatical roles than at any other time in TCDSU’s history. Three of the five officers had been women in 2001 and 2003.

As well as election of sabbatical officers, the results of three referendums were announced. The referendum to oppose the proposed introduction of the new and increased student levies was passed with 79% of the vote, while 54% voted against TCDSU adopting a long-term policy to campaign for the abolition of national water charges. Despite the passing of a preferendum last year that resulted in the question being formally put to students, the referendum to give TCDSU a mandate to support an increase in the sports centre charge from €90 to €120 was defeated, with 58% of valid ballots cast in opposition.

Photo: Kevin O’Rourke