Continuing our election coverage, today we interview the Welfare candidates, Mícheál Gallagher and Enda Conway, with full analysis of the race in our pull-out election special in the next issue
What is the role of the Welfare Officer?
“To help every student in whatever they need, whether it be mental health issues, financially or just to be a person to talk to. I believe also [he/she] is there to organise any campaigns that need to be organised in relation to welfare, such as LGBT, Money Matters and Mental Health Campaigns.”
How do you rate the performance of this year’s Welfare Officer?
“I think she has done exceptionally. Rachel Breslin has helped me personally and given me the drive and ambition to help other people.”
Will you be voting for or against the new constitution?
“I will be voting for the introduction of the new constitution. We’re looking for a constitution which is going to be better than the older one, and I believe this one is.”
Enda Conway maintains that he “wouldn’t be in UCD at this moment in time if it wasn’t for Welfare.” He is not a member of the Welfare Crew, but states that his personal experience of Welfare is the reason students should vote for him. “I believe students should vote for me because I can offer a new view of Welfare, something that is going to give students what they need. I’ve been through Welfare and I understand it; I believe I can offer students that experience.”
Among his top priorities is reducing the cost of food on campus by introducing a loyalty card for restaurants and food outlets, a proposal which seems unusual in light of the SU’s difficulties with a loyalty card scheme that was withdrawn earlier this year. Conway also says he will lobby for a reduction in the price of on and off campus outlets. He plans to organise Come Dine With Me nights on residences, an idea which was proposed by both Regina Brady and Rachel Breslin in last year’s Welfare election but has yet to come to fruition, and wants to ensure that all Ents nights are accessible to those in wheelchairs, by lobbying next year’s Ents officer.
Conway believes that corporate sponsorship could be used to raise funds for Welfare; and is willing to take a twenty per cent pay cut if the money would contribute to the Welfare Fund. When faced with cuts, Conway would cut paper and poster costs. He states that he would highlight important issues and Welfare events through personal lecture addressing and Facebook, citing “enthusiasm” among students as the reason that these could be as successful as poster campaigns.
What is the role of the Welfare Officer?
“The role of the Welfare Officer is to look after the welfare for each and every member of the Students’ Union and campaign actively to look after it.”
How do you feel that this year’s Welfare Officer has performed?
“I think this year’s Welfare Officer has been fantastic and one of my aims would be to live up to the same expectations and, hopefully, exceed it [sic].”
Will you be voting for or against the introduction of the new constitution and why?
“I will be voting for the constitution. I like a lot of the technicalities … such as officers not being able to make a profit off their position. That is something I feel very strongly about.”
Mícheál Gallagher believes that students should vote for him because he is “passionate about student welfare” and is “truly the most experienced candidate.” He has served as both vice-secretary and secretary of the Welfare crew, while his degree choice strongly suggests his passion for the position is genuine. Additionally he believes his role of Arts PRO this year has improved his organisational skills, something he admits has been a “weakness in the past.”
Gallagher outlines tackling the stigma associated with mental health as his top priority, something he hopes to achieve through the use of viral ad campaigns and a series of “famous” guest lecturers. Other notable ambitions include lobbying to ensure that there are no cuts to frontline services, tweaking elements of the residence policy and producing information booklets, such as a “cheap lifestyle guide” or “mature student handbook.”
Somewhat surprisingly, there is no mention of Sexual Health or Education policies in his manifesto. Gallagher states that this is because he has been “very involved in organising SHAG week in the last three years and [is] very happy with the format at the moment.”
Additionally, Gallagher is keen to emphasise that the emphasis on campaigning in his manifesto will not result in personal cases being neglected. “I think I am more than able to handle the personal cases during the hours of nine to five and do the campaigning in the evening.”
A number of Gallagher’s ideas appear to be in their formative stages with details, such as what guest speakers would be sought or how receptive the Residence Services would be to his proposals, remaining ambiguous. Nevertheless, he believes that his experience will allow him to develop quickly if elected. “I am a very experienced individual. I know how to follow through on these priorities and I know that I will.”