Áine Gilhooly has not been permitted to run in the upcoming Students’ Union (SU) elections having failed to submit her nomination for Education Officer before the deadline, The University Observer has learned.
SU Returning Officer, Morgan Shelley, and Chief Returning Officer, Paddy O’Flynn, had provisionally accepted Gilhooly’s nomination to run for Education Officer when she submitted it seconds after the deadline had passed at 6pm on March 3rd. However, after one of her opponents Sam Geoghegan appealed this decision, the Independent Appeals Board (IAB) this afternoon ruled that Gilhooly was ineligible to run for the position.
Gilhooly is the second candidate to be prevented from running for the position, following James Doyle’s disqualification from the race. Doyle had submitted his application five minutes after the deadline passed.
Speaking to The University Observer, Geoghegan emphasised that his decision to appeal the nomination should not be taken personally by Gilhooly, but said that he had to act in his “best interests”.
He explained how an unnamed source told him that Gilhooly was only running “‘as James Doyle is quite popular in Arts… So we want to put in a big fish – the big fish being Áine – to maybe throw Jenn and James out of the race so then it’ll be plain sailing [for Geoghegan] right to the Education Office.’ I said: ‘I don’t think I need that, but fair enough.’”
Geoghegan denied Gilhooly’s alleged claims that he was “scared of me” and that he undertook the decision to appeal because he knew Gilhooly was “the better candidate”. He also believed that Gilhooly genuinely sought to be elected despite rumours to the contrary.
Geoghegan expressed regret at the manner at which Gilhooly’s campaign ended, saying he “felt sorry for Áine that it came to that,” but added: “I’m sure if Áine was in my situation, she would have done the same thing.”
The University Observer understands that Gilhooly has expressed support for Jenn Fox, Geoghegan’s other opponent, following her elimination. Geoghegan also said: “There might be a heavy RON (Re-Open Nominations) campaign for Education, but I’m still confident.”
Geoghegan further defended his decision to appeal Gilhooly’s nomination, saying: “I didn’t employ any dirty tactics and I showed Áine respect throughout all this. I can understand that Áine is emotional, but I’m disappointed by her reaction.”
Geoghegan said he was told that Gilhooly’s nomination was provisionally accepted because when she submitted her nomination, “it was still six o’clock and not 6:01”. However, he explained how the IAB reversed the initial ruling on the grounds that “six o’clock is 6.0000 and not 6.0001”.
Gilhooly reacted angrily at Geoghegan’s comments, telling The University Observer: “While it was with great disappointment that I learnt of the decision of the IAB, I feel that I acted with professionalism and integrity throughout my campaign. It is regrettable that I must further suggest that if I were male, the word [emotional] would not have been bandied about whatsoever.
“The suggestion that I would consider fronting a sham campaign is gravely offensive and an utter falsehood. I have been an active member of UCDSU for a number of years, and I put more value on democracy than to mount a mock campaign…I would not have acted in the same way were I in his position.”
Gilhooly’s campaign manager, Sarah Taheny, said that the decision was unfair and that it was “the actions of a candidate who was intimidated by the prospect of a three-sided campaign.” She added: “We are currently exploring our options, but for now, we will accept the decision of the IAB.”