SU Election Special – Campaigns and Communications Vice-President

Today’s election coverage focuses on the race for Campaigns and Communications Vice-President, with interviews with all four candidates, Aisling Sheerin, James Atkinson, Patrick Guiney, and Karl Gill.  Full analysis of this and every race can be found in our pull-out Election Special, on campus next Tuesday


Name: Paddy Guiney

Age: 21

Course: Third Year Politics and History

What is the role of the Campaigns and Communications Officer?

“The first part is communicating with students, letting them know what the Students’ Union does, through social media, advertisements in media outlets … The second thing is campaigning for issues that students care about, whether that be simple things like student issues on campus like Save our Track or national issues.”

How do you feel this year’s officer has performed?

“Basically, I think I can do a better job. I can do a much better job and I can add my own level to it, I can take it up a notch.”

Will you be voting for or against the introduction of the new constitution?

“I’ll most definitely be for. I think it’s a fantastic constitution, it’s so open and it’s more democratic. It allows more students to get involved and I think it caters to students’ needs, especially with the times we live in.”

Patrick Guiney is involved in the Students’ Union both as Sports Officer and class rep. He speaks emphatically but shows an obvious nervousness while being interviewed.

Guiney supports the introduction of the new constitution, even with its elimination of the C&C Officer, arguing that the President and Welfare Officer could take on many C&C duties. “The Welfare Officer can cover a lot of campaigns and the President, like other colleges … covers national campaigns like the fees march.”

Getting more students “involved” in the Students’ Union is one of Guiney’s priorities, and he supports this common mantra with a plan to introduce work experience within the SU. He acknowledges that the idea is cost-effective but denies that asking students to design an app or a poster for free would be taking advantage of them. “I don’t think payment should come into this whatsoever … I’m just trying to look at student creativity.”

Guiney would hold a march with a view to securing a cap on fees and a reintroduction of postgraduate grants rather than free education. His talk of ‘town hall meetings’ is juxtaposed by his comment that how “campaigns work is behind closed doors”, a statement he plays down when its contradictory nature is highlighted. When asked about specific details regarding the grading of the ‘Credits for Life’ scheme, he points out that that responsibility would lie with the Education Officer.

Guiney states that he has spoken to vendors regarding the implementation of Laser facilities and a ‘Deal of the Week’, although nothing has been confirmed as of yet, while his sitting on a car parking committee supports his claim of being able to secure more car parking spaces. So far it seems that he has been hands-on with these ideas; whether he would carry through on his claims remains to be seen.


Name: Karl Gill
Age: 21
Course: Second Year Social Science

What is the role of the Campaigns and Communications Officer?
“I think it’s quite an important role in the University as it’s to lead, be part of, and organise very important campaigns on behalf of students. It’s also very important that students know what’s going on in their own Union and ensuring that they know how to run for class rep, how to run for sabbatical election and how to be involved in their own Union,  and that they know where the money is being spent.”

How do you feel this year’s officer has performed?
“I think that the organisation around the anti-fees march was quite good, however I think I would have done things a bit differently. I don’t think that recently things have been very good at all. My experience over the last few days, getting signatures for nomination, [is that] students don’t know who their Campaigns and Communications officer is.”

Will you be voting for or against the introduction of the new constitution?
“I’ll be voting against the introduction of the new constitution. I feel it’s far too bureaucratic. I think there’s even more of a separation between the main student body and the Union, councils and the Union reps. I like the idea of the independence of the Ents Officer, differentiating between a student position and an actual full-time position. I don’t like that the conveners or the PROs would be paid at the discretion of the sabbatical officers. It also removes the right for any student to call a Union General Meeting … I think that needs to be kept in.”

Second year Social Science student Karl Gill has experience both in campaigning and representing students, having helped protest the closure of the SU Copy Bureau earlier this year, as well as being Societies Rep at SU Council. A number of his ideas, such as leaving class parties to a dedicated Ents class rep and holding more union assemblies, revolve around what he sees as the proper representation of the student body.

Gill is auditor of UCD Socialist Worker Student Society, a member of the United Left Alliance and is strongly anti-fees, which could prove contentious should he be elected. The impending vote on UCDSU’s stance on education could show its members to no longer believe that the free fees model is sustainable. When questioned about whether he would consider his mandate to be altered should this occur, Gill remained intransigent.

Gill would be willing to take a pay cut, stating “I’d happily be on €300 a week and give €100 to the Welfare Fund” and maintains that union “junkets”, citing USI’s annual congress being held in a five star hotel as an example, should cease. “Conferences need to go ahead and discussions need to be had however, they need to be relevant.”


Name: James Atkinson
Age: 20
Course: Third Year Commerce
What is the role of the Campaigns and Communications Officer?

“The primary functions are to serve as a communication tool between UCD and the students, to keep class reps doing their jobs, to organise class rep training, to promote the positions of class rep and the availability of sabbatical positions.”

How do you feel this year’s officer has performed?
“I’ve talked to people who have worked with him the whole year round – they don’t think his performance is up to par. From what I’ve seen, with his promises in his manifesto to revolutionise the way the Union communicates with you; it simply didn’t happen.”

Will you be voting for or against the introduction of the new constitution?
”I’ll be voting for it. The thing I like about it is that it makes officers more accountable. Officers who haven’t been up to scratch with their reports could be penalised with the [Independent Appeals Board].”


C&E Society Vice-Auditor James Atkinson fully believes in his ability to accomplish great things in the role of Campaigns and Communications Officer. His studies in Commerce appear to be the basis of such confidence, despite the experience he has gained as a class rep, as well as in his current role in C&E. “I’m a third year Commerce graduate. I’m going into a communications job after this; that’s where my future lies – it’s in media, communications, and it’s in marketing.”
Atkinson says that “one of the biggest problems facing the Students’ Union is communication,” and aims to increase the visibility of the C&C Officer while improving the Union’s media infrastructure. However he shows little experience of contacting the national media with whom he hopes to build “good relationships” and seems to have a somewhat naive view of the effort involved in securing celebrity interviews, which he plans to include in C&C Youtube videos. “For example, Padraig Harrington was in the L&H. If I go down there with a camera and say ‘How’s it going, Padraig. Listen, just two minutes.’”

If elected, Atkinson plans on making fortnightly YouTube videos and setting up “a table on campus every week, handing out cups of tea” so as to engage students. He says that students think the current sabbatical team are “lazy” and “don’t come down to things as much as they should.”
Atkinson’s opinions on most issues are qualified by those of the students, and he is initially hesitant about giving his own views. He is open to a new Union policy on fees and would campaign on the result of the upcoming referendum, no matter what the outcome. He believes that everybody should be allowed to attend college but concedes that “it’s not sustainable to have free education for everyone, because … we’re so far in debt that it is just not going to happen.”

Name: Aisling Sheerin
Age: 20
Course: Second Year Spanish and Irish

What is the role of the Campaigns and Communications Officer?
“To communicate what the Students’ Union is doing with everything, across the board … they’re in charge of the Facebook groups, the website, providing class rep training and I think that’s enough.”

How do you feel this year’s officer has performed?
“I feel that Brendan could have done things better in some areas, particularly in helping the Exec officers with their campaigns … In terms of Facebook and Youtube videos, I feel there weren’t many Youtube videos, there was only really one at the start of the year.”

Will you be voting for or against the introduction of the new constitution?
“I will be voting against it as the role of C&C is gone and I feel that it is an incredibly important position. I do like the way they’ve decided to professionalise Ents and there are some parts of the Constitution that I do really agree with … I feel that the Students’ Union needs to be revamped and there is a need for a new Constitution … [but] there are certain changes that need to be made to this one to make it right. Also, I don’t believe that Convenors should be paid.”

Aisling Sheerin is currently heavily involved with the Students’ Union, serving as both a class rep and Arts and Human Sciences Programme Officer, and describes herself as the candidate with “the most experience.”
Sheerin promotes her desire to bring “fresh ideas” to the position, stating that there is “so much more to the job than has been done in the past.” However some of her proposals, including plans surrounding International Week and careers talks, are already largely catered to on campus. She also proposes to implement strong Gender Equality campaigns, although should the new Constitution come into force the Gender Equality co-ordinator will report not to the C&C officer, but to a forum chaired by the Welfare Officer.
Among her other plans are the introduction of on-campus class rep training, the provision of parking stickers to reduce park-and-ride problems, and the selling of SU diaries to all students. Two further proposals are the relocation of the SU Bookshop to the library tunnel and the introduction of ‘deals of the week’, but Sheerin has not yet made enquiries about the feasibility of either, stating that she hadn’t “discussed [the bookshop] with Buildings and Services” and that, “deals for students are so easily achieved, I don’t think it’s something I need to look into now.”
Sheerin realises the gravity of the SU’s financial situation but ultimately would not take a pay cut. “I would accept a pay cut next year. I’m not too sure [how much]… They are currently on minimum wageI don’t think it should be below minimum wage, I don’t think that’s fair… Well then, no pay cut.”

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