A member of UCD Students’ Union Council has accused a committee member of the Kevin Barry Cumann (KBC) of trying to intimidate him into not running for an SU Executive position. The member of Council, who did not wish to be named, said that he received threatening text messages after having spoken against SU Education Vice-President Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin at a meeting of the Council.
The student showed The University Observer the text message, which stated that any effort he made to run for an Executive position would be blocked and actively campaigned against by the KBC, the UCD branch of the Fianna Fáil party. The text message also stated that this was due to his urging SU Council to vote to re-open nominations in the election of Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Education Officer, in which Ó Súilleabháin was a candidate.
The individual said that “the text basically said that a political organisation didn’t like how I acted as an elected official – and even though it was voted through by a huge margin, they told me that if I ever ran for this position that themselves and friends of Donnacha Ó Súilleabháin would come out and campaign against me.” He added that he had “inferred from it that they would run someone against me. I know that in the past there have been situations in which people have found people running against them due to disagreements.”
In addition, the individual felt victimised, given that he had not meant his speech as a personal attack, explaining that “I wasn’t making a personal attack. I was saying that he needs a year to clear his name” following an investigation into the alleged misappropriation of Science Day funds. The individual had decided not to run for any Executive position in the days running up to USI Hustings, but received the message before the KBC member had become aware of this.
Chairperson of the KBC, Patrick Conroy, categorically denied any knowledge of the threats, saying that “it’s an absolute disgrace and I wouldn’t condone it.” He also told The University Observer that “as far as I’m aware, it didn’t happen.”
Vice-President for Students Dr Martin Butler spoke out against the action, saying “dignity and respect underpins everything that we do in a university,” and “any behaviour that makes other students uncomfortable will not be tolerated by the university and shouldn’t be tolerated by fellow students.”
Conroy, who himself ran in the Executive elections, lost out in the race for Postgraduate Officer to Martin Lawless, who also spoke out against Ó Súilleabháin at the USI Hustings.