Heated hustings sees endorsement of Kevin Donoghue for USI president

newsKevin Donoghue – the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) vice president for academic affairs and quality assurance – was tonight endorsed by members of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (SU) Council for the position of USI president.

He was nominated by class reps ahead of his opponent Glenn Fitzpatrick, the USI vice president for campaigns, at a heated husting session that saw the passing of an emergency motion banning SU sabbatical officers from endorsing USI candidates on official union channels.

Former SU education officer Jack Leahy was nominated for the position of USI vice president for academic affairs and quality assurance ahead of Martin Lynch, its vice president for the southern region.

Annie Hoey, the current USI vice president for equality and citizenship, was endorsed for a second term, while DIT student Daniel Waugh, the sole candidate for the position of USI vice president for campaign, also received the support of class reps.

NUIGSU welfare officer Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin was recommended for the position of USI vice president for welfare ahead of CITSU welfare officer Ciara O’Connor.

MSU Irish language officer Aedraen Ó Dubhghail, who was unable to attend the hustings, was selected for the position of USI vice president for the Irish language.

Tonight’s meeting also saw the passing of a motion to ban sabbatical officers from endorsing USI candidates through official union channels.

The move followed criticism of remarks made on social media by a sabbatical officer in support of Donoghue’s candidacy for USI president.

In a message posted in a class rep Facebook group, Ents officer Finn Murphy had urged students not to vote for his opponent Glenn Fitzpatrick, who he claimed holds “radical” views and does not work well as part of a team.

Claire Donlon was one of several class reps to criticise the post tonight. “[Murphy] subverted the democratic right of Council,” she said. “A lot of people are annoyed and disappointed about what happened.”

Incoming SU president Lynn Ruane also spoke out against criticism of Fitzpatrick, saying sabbatical officers should remember to uphold a “basic level of human decency” in the run-up to hustings. 

SU president Domhnall McGlacken-Byrne – who has publicly supported Donoghue’s bid for the USI position along with his four fellow sabbatical officers – said: “There’s a balance in that, on the one hand, we’re the ones working with [candidates] on a daily basis and it’s not irrelevant for us to advocate for someone on a personal level – but, on the other hand, is the fact that we have these hustings for you to make up your mind.”

The 18 Trinity delegates due to be vote in the USI elections at its annual National Congress later this month are now mandated to support the six candidates endorsed tonight. 

Catherine Healy

Editor of Trinity News. Interested in politics, history and all forms of media.