Final-year Trinity student Jack Leahy is the favourite to be elected vice-president (VP) for academic affairs and quality assurance (AAQA) of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) at the organisation’s annual congress this week. The former Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) education officer received the endorsement of seven SUs ahead of voting at the USI gathering in Athlone, which kicked off on Monday. His opponent, Martin Lynch, the USI VP for the southern region, has the backing of three SUs.
While some unions allow delegates a free vote in the USI elections, many mandate their delegates to vote for the candidates they have officially endorsed. TCDSU has also endorsed Kevin Donoghue, the current USI vice-president for AAQA, for the USI presidential race ahead of his opponent Glenn Fitzpatrick, the USI VP for campaigns. Donoghue’s endorsement by Trinity representatives came amid controversy after Ents officer Finn Murphy asked class reps not to vote for the “radical” Fitzpatrick on the grounds that he was difficult to work with. The intervention was condemned by several class reps and led the passing of an emergency motion at the last SU council banning sabbatical officers from endorsing USI candidates on official union channels.
Donoghue also had pledged support of Maynooth SU, IT Sligo SU, Galway-Mayo IT SU, and DCDU SU heading into this week’s congress. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, has been backed by the SUs in Cork IT, IADT, and DIT. NUIGSU’s backing for Fitzpatrick had to be withdrawn because of a technical breach that rendered the vote invalid.”
The uncontested candidates running for the USI officer board this week are Annie Hoey, who is seeking to be re-elected VP for equality and citizenship; Aedraen Ó Dubhghaill, the uncontested candidate for VP for the Irish language; and Daniel Waugh, who is the sole candidate for the position of VP for campaigns. NUIGSU welfare officer Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin, who is endorsed by TCDSU, and CITSU welfare officer Ciara O’Connor are both running for the position of VP for welfare.
The annual USI congress, which ends on Thursday, will also see delegates considering motions on topics including the organisation of a Dublin student ball, the removal of the USI equality officer’s special focus on LGBT rights in the event that the marriage equality referendum passes, and mandatory sexual consent classes for students in their first semester of third-level education. The only motion submitted by TCDSU proposes to mandate the congress to “make regulations and procedures relating to Officer Board elections readily available to member organisations.”