Candidates promise “in-person” engagement with first years at Halls hustings

Engagement remained the most prevalent topic for campaigning at the hustings in Trinity Hall

Several candidates emphasised in-person engagement with first years at Halls hustings this evening. 

The hustings in Trinity Hall (Halls) this evening allowed Junior Common Room (JCR) officers the opportunity to ask sabbatical hopefuls how they plan to represent first years.

Engagement remained the most discussed topic of the campaign season at the hustings, although greater emphasis was placed on physical presence in Halls by several candidates. 


Taking to the stage for a last chance to swing voters before polls open, both presidential candidates were asked why they didn’t mention Halls in their manifestos and how they would ensure that Halls residents do not get left behind. 

Jenny Maguire clarified that her mention of a “campus wide” freshers campaign included Halls but conceded that she “should have been more specific”. 

Ralph Balfe on the other hand said that he felt it was “more important to reference Paul Mescal”. On how he would include Halls residents, Balfe vowed to “email every student, every hour”. 

Balfe later handed over a question posed to him to Maguire, crediting the idea to his “friends at Trinity News” for reporting that his candidacy “took time away from Jenny”. 

When asked whether her housing activist training would be available to Halls residents, Maguire said the policy was “designed for students who don’t have a fantastic resource like the JCR”, but said that expanding it to Halls residents would be a “great way to get people engaged in activism”.


While education candidates Sé Ó hEidhin and Eoghan Gilroy have spent their campaigns focusing on the union’s structure and engagement respectively, at Halls hustings they were asked to convince voters without either of these promises.

Ó hEidhin said they plan on doing everything previous education officers did, and argued the focus of their campaign has been on “brand new things”, such as a course materials audit across facilities.

While Ó hEidhin put focus on the future, Gilroy emphasised his past experience as Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences convenor as his unique selling point, having already dealt with academic issues with students: “I want to be there holding their hand every step of the way.”

Ó hEidhin was also asked how they plan to remove “predatory accommodation” from the Trinity Accommodation Service for first years in particular, to which they repeated their promise to put pressure on College.

Gilroy had the opportunity to centre his response around first years when asked how he plans his promise to “get the union off House 6” extends to first years in Halls. He promised physical office hours in Trinity Hall on a monthly basis to make sure students know “that they’re supported, absolutely I will be here”.

Welfare & Equality

At Halls hustings, once again the absence of the voice of candidate Nathan Harrington left both an empty seat and an empty question slot.

JCR Welfare Officer Emer Munnelly raised the point that each candidate failed to “reach out to the JCR welfare officer” prior to the campaign. Following an apology, Hamza Bana noted that he would like to “connect with all welfare officers,” acknowledging that “welfare and equality is for all students.” Hannah McCauley apologised for the “complete oversight”, continuing to commit to “establishing weekly check-ins to strengthen relationships” between the JCR and the TCDSU.

McCauley was asked to consider how she would expand food banks to include Halls, to which she noted that “to not expand out to the JCR would be a missed opportunity”, and that she would “appreciate the input of the JCR” in doing so. Concluding the welfare slot, Bana was asked how he would seek to support students with disabilities in Trinity Hall. Stating that he would “advocate for facilities to get to campus,” Bana noted he would address the “discrepancy” of services and advocate for student welfare.

Communications & Marketing

Connor Dempsey, Sarah Murnane, and Beth Strahan were also questioned by the JCR in Halls about how they plan to include freshers in their plans if elected. They were first questioned on their engagement plan for first years. 

Strahan shared that the Halls Herald will be her go-to resource for platforming financial literacy advice as well as improving pathways for the JCR on-campus. Dempsey emphasised the value of in-person canvassing stating that people respond to information better when they see a “friendly face”. Murnane merely endorsed her plan to create Third Spaces on campus, giving people a “free place to make friends”. 

Strahan was questioned on her suggestions to push for an Irish translation committee where she said that respecting “the JCR’s autonomy” is paramount as the relationship between the student organisations must be collaborative.

With Dempsey’s focus on in-person outreach, he was asked how he plans to fix the physical distance between the union and the JCR. He shared that the solution is being “socially and physically present” and showing students that the union cares about their inclusion. 

Murnane was similarly questioned on how she plans to keep off-campus students engaged, sharing a personal story about her fresher experiences and not having a “free place that was relaxing”. She promised students that with her “Third Spaces” plan, they will be involved. 

Oifigeach na Gaeilge

Uncontested Oifigeach na Gaeilge (Irish Language Officer) candidate Pádraig Mac Brádaigh was asked how he would involve the JCR in his work as the first ever full time Irish language officer. Mac Brádaigh spent most of his response time discussing the importance of representation for Scéim. 

Scéim is the Irish language scheme wherein up to 12 first-year students and 6 second-year students can live in an all-Irish apartment in Halls, where Mac Brádaigh lived during his time there. “It’s incredibly important that this community has representation”, he said. 

Mac Brádaigh also said he would talk to the JCR about “getting an Oifigeach na Gaeilge” of their own. When asked about including the JCR in the expansion of Gaeilge, Mac Brádaigh once again mentioned Scéim, talking about boosting advertisement of Irish language events, in order to raise money for the Scéim. “To get that money we have to put on events”, he said, adding that currently not enough people are aware of them.


Uncontested Ents candidate Peader Walsh faced questions on first year engagement and JCR autonomy. When asked how he would bridge the gap between the first years who live in Halls and those who don’t, Walsh said that there should be more emphasis during freshers week on the work done by the JCR.  He also said they could run more promotions such as free wristbands and making tickets to events cheaper.

He was then asked what practical steps he would take to help the JCR Ents officer while the JCR can still maintain autonomy.  Walsh emphasised that the link between the two has to be very strong. Walsh acknowledged that as the current JCR Ents officer, he has developed a good working relationship with current Ents officer Olivia Orr.

The University Times (UT)

Candidates for University Times (UT) Editor, Charlie Hastings and Brídín Ní Fhearraigh-Joyce, faced questions about their engagement of Halls residents in the paper. Both candidates gave vague responses, with Hastings calling for “more centralised freshers week” and Ní Fhearraigh-Joyce stating that she’d like UT to have an “increased presence” at Halls freshers fair. 

In their individual questions, Hastings was asked about his manifesto plan to hold more events to engage with students, saying that he intends “to work closely with societies” and increase society coverage within the paper. Ní Fhearraigh-Joyce was questioned on how she plans to increase coverage of Halls within the paper. The final year English student said she would like to hold events like “print workshops” to engage freshers and have “series” within the paper that would cover the theme of Halls.

Voting in the TCDSU sabbatical elections opens tomorrow at 10am tomorrow and close on Thursday at 4pm.

Reporting by Kate Henshaw, Ellen Kenny, Eve Conway, Charlotte Kent, Emily Sheehan, Gabriela Gazaniga, Hazel Mulkeen and Faye Madden.