President Race: When it comes to fighting for students, Jenny Maguire promises to be the “loudest, most annoying voice” in the room

With her campaign slogan “Hire Maguire” presidential candidate Jenny Maguire feels that she is the right person for the job

Jenny Maguire will undoubtedly be a familiar face to anyone involved with Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), having previously served as both LGBT rights officer and gender equality officer. Now, the English Studies student wants to lend her experience to the role of president. 

Maguire’s work within the union stretches back to the online COVID days when after serving as a class representative for a year, Maguire was elected LGBT Rights Officer via Zoom.

Describing the experience in an interview with Trinity News she said: “I was so nervous. I prepared a little speech for myself, and we only had 60 seconds to do it. I was ready to go and I was ready to fight and I practised it and I got it down exactly to 60 seconds, and then I ran unopposed, so I didn’t get to do it.”

Maguire’s level of enthusiasm is still evident four years on as she explains her decision to run for president: “The union this year has been fantastic. It really engaged people in ways that I’ve never seen before, and on a level I’d never seen before, and that’s come from years of building to it.”

“And I think I’m the candidate that can take us further and take us to a next step to build upon those who have come before me but also to do new things. And to really push the boundaries of what a union could do, and I have proven that I can do that.” 

In addition to her work within the union, Maguire believes that her experience of taking a year out and having to repeat a year, has given her valuable insight into “where college doesn’t work.”

“If you have the ability to be loud, then I think you should use it”

If elected, she intends to continue the momentum of the current sabbatical team with a radical grassroots approach to union politics. However she caveats that she is not radical for “the sake of radicalism” but radical in order to improve student’s welfare: “If you have the ability to be loud, then I think you should use it.”

Ultimately, Maguire believes that the role of the union is to be “the loudest, most annoying voice in any room. And as anyone that’s met me knows, I’m often the loudest and the noisiest person in the room”, she says.

Despite her praise for the current sabbatical team, Maguire would like to see the union become less “top down” in its approach with students: “I think I would definitely try to build more personal connections with students that are perhaps untouched, that aren’t directly touched by the union or politics overall.”

Asked what she thinks the barriers are that stop these students from getting involved Maguire highlighted the “the lack of information around what the union is” among the student body. To address this, Maguire wants to change the way the union does Freshers week. 

We’re a union and we should act as such”

“This union sometimes has an identity crisis. Are we a society, are we a college service, and in my opinion, we’re neither. We’re a union and we should act as such. And by that I mean we need to be bold and we need to not just follow the usual guidelines of “okay, we’ll do a stall Freshers Fair and we might give a little speech or get pizza”. I think we should do that, but we should also have our presence be unavoidable”, she says. 

While Maguire believes that increasing engagement is crucial, she acknowledges that “there are only so many hours in the day” especially for students who have to care for a family member or work to get through college saying that the union needs to “break down that barrier” by advocating student workers as well as student parents and carers.

“It’s a failing. Those voices are lost and those perspectives are lost. And so it will just continue to be that way unless we think both and do something different.”

To address this, Maguire wants to push College to create a formal student-worker policy. The details of such a policy, she says, would need to be worked out and negotiated with college but would most likely involve cementing timetables in advance and an official policy allowing students to swap tutorial times.

“Students are going to have to work because Dublin is the most expensive city to live in, in Europe. And so that is the reality of where your college is situated”


“Students are going to have to work because Dublin is the most expensive city to live in, in Europe. And so that is the reality of where your college is situated. And so just to get that recognized for us to build upon going forward, I think is important”, she says. 

When asked if she could choose just one of her manifesto points to become realised, she mentions the student-workers policy without hesitation, noting that it has “the broadest outreach” out of all her commitments. The current lack of policy, she believes, ties to the wider issue of classism in Trinity which she names as one of two main issues facing students in addition to housing. 

In regards to housing Maguire promises to “fight tooth and nail” for a 30% of minimum wage rent. She intends to utilise the union’s partnership with Community Action Tenants Union (CATU) in order to train grassroots activists within college accommodation, digs, and private accommodation. In terms of direct action, she praised the current sabbatical team’s “simple and effective” Book of Kells blockade, though she added that she wouldn’t be tempted to repeat the exact same demonstration as she “encourages creativity.”

While planning to take a radical approach, Maguire isn’t against dealing with College on an administrative level and “having the discussions” but notes that should such conversations be met with “delays, flat out no’s, or bureaucratic nightmares” direct action is needed.

“I’m not going into it like I’m going to be shouting from the rooftops for the sake of it. But you should shout from the rooftops when they refuse to listen, and that is when the time to act is.” 

One of the most contentious within the union this year was the motion put forth by several sabbatical officers to withdraw mandated support for the Postgraduate Workers Organisation (PWO) following allegations of harassment from TCDSU members. When asked about where she fell on the matter, Maguire called the situation “unfortunate”, but declined to comment saying that she “really wasn’t involved” with the situation and that “both parties are right in a way”. However she added that allegations of “harassment cannot be like pushed aside in any way, shape, or form.”

When asked how relations between the two organisations can be mended going forward, she highlighted the need for a grievances policy to “heal those divisions whilst acknowledging wrongdoings done”, but added that such a policy would need to keep the “most vulnerable” in mind.

On how the union can better fit the needs of postgraduate workers, Maguire stressed the need for better communication between the organisations saying that the only line of communication “should not be WhatsApp group”. She also highlighted that structures in place for undergraduate students won’t work for postgraduate workers as the positions are so “fundamentally different.”

“I think you can try to integrate it but you know, we’ve seen time and time again when you just try to slide people into a system, that’s not meant for them, it’s just a recipe for disaster”, she says. 

Having served as both LGBT Rights and Gender Equality Officer and being a proud transgender woman, topics of welfare and equality are central to Maguire’s manifesto. She plans to fight for the integration of consent training into the enrollment process noting that such a policy has already been implemented in Dublin City University (DCU). She also intends to work for the introduction of harm reduction measures for transgender students in the health service, which would allow the health service to administer hormones and blood tests to transgender students.

Asked about how she would ensure the union is accessible for students with disabilities, Maguire mentioned the lack of lift in house 6 and committed to holding office hours outside of house 6 multiple times a week to accommodate students unable to climb the stairs. She also hopes to make council more accessible pointing to its lack of breaks and inaccessible slides. 

Aware of the legacy student unions hold in Ireland for administering social change, Maguire intends to start a campaign to expand abortion access beyond 12 weeks, calling the current policy “archaic.” Meeting with political groups to “highlight students affected by the 27th amendment” is also among Maguire’s plans for office. 

“I truly believe that the student movement can bring things to the forefront, and they can bring things that are not being discussed, and it’s important to do so. And because when people see, especially Trinity College, talk about it, people’s ears prick up, whether for good or bad reasons”, she says

Maguire praised the current sabbatical team for their response to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, however she emphasises the need for the welfare of students affected by the situation to be prioritised in addition to direct action.

“It’s important to highlight the resources and facilities available and to push for broader facilities for students who now have to continue their studies while their homeland is being destroyed”, she says.

“I think that is a perspective that is kind of not being pushed as much, but I think it’s a perspective that needs to be included.” 

The welfare of students is also a priority for Maguire when it comes to supporting ethnic minorities on campus in the wake of a rise in far-right activity in Dublin. Harassment from the far-right is something that Maguire has firsthand experience with. 

“At the start of the academic year, I organised a protest against a transphobic individual named Posie Parker and her rally garnered a lot of far right support. I organised the counter protest to it and found that I received death threats. There were knives found on the people in attendance. And then I had to go to class the next day”, she tells me.

Maguire believes that this experience will give her greater weight when raising the issue with College, whom she feels is “dragging its feet in how it supports marginalised students.”

“It’s a lot easier to dismiss Laszlo when he is a white, straight male, and it’s a lot harder to dismiss me”, she says.

“We saw the college community come together then I ended the riots. I slept on the floor. But we need to realise that we can’t just be cleaning up as we go. We need to be, you know, getting the dustbin ready.”

Maguire is critical of College’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) policy for what she sees as a lack of “meaningful engagement.”

“As the world has progressed and become more inclusive, we’ve done so in a way that is purely for how we can make profits. It’s an EDI policy that is not made for the people it’s meant to represent. It’s made so people can say they have an EDI policy, and I think college follows along those lines”, she says.

You can’t just add inclusion policies on top of a rake of bullshit to make it better because I still have to sit on top of the bullshit”

“You can’t just add inclusion policies on top of a rake of bullshit to make it better because I still have to sit on top of the bullshit.” 

If elected, Maguire would encourage people not to use her identity as a transwoman to “say ‘Oh, isn’t that great?’ And make a LinkedIn post about it”, but to question why she is the first transgender student to achieve this and to see it as “a wakeup call “rather than as an opportunity to “pat ourselves on the back.” 

As a closing statement to voters, Maguire says: “The union has done great stuff this year. But it has to keep going. No matter what we do. We need to be building, we need to be reaching out to those not just within our college, not just within our college community, but outside of it and people fighting for the same fight and I will be the one to do that for you.”

Campaigning in the TCDSU sabbatical elections began today with Dining Hall Hustings and will continue throughout the week. Voting opens next Tuesday February 27 and close on Thursday February 29.

Have your say: Fill out the Trinity News election poll here.

Charlotte Kent

Charlotte Kent is the Co-News Editor at Trinity News and a Senior Freshman PPES Student.