Redmond looks set for USI Presidency

 
 

UCD Students’ Union President Gary Redmond looks set to be elected to the Presidency of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) at its annual Congress, which takes place this week in Ballinasloe.

Redmond has described himself as being “absolutely delighted” with the support he’s received so far in his campaign. He also reported that his campaign had been well received in other colleges around Ireland, commenting that he was feeling “an awful lot of positivity throughout the country.”

UCD Students’ Union gave Redmond near-unanimous backing at its own USI Hustings last Tuesday, 23rd March. Redmond is opposed by current USI Equality Officer Linda Kelly, a graduate of University College Cork.

Speaking at UCD’s meeting in an effort to secure UCD’s support, Kelly detailed her experience of being involved in campaigns such as the anti-fees campaign and the campaign for civil marriage as part of her USI duties. Kelly said she believed that “the President of the organisation needs to be experienced in order to realistically effect change in the next twelve months,” and said that if elected she “can hit the ground running.”

Redmond responded by saying he was “running on the merits” of his campaign and countered that Kelly had “worked for USI for two years as the Equality Officer; she’s been away from the coalface of students and may not have the understanding of the student’s issues” that he possessed as the president of a local SU.

Redmond has received the backing of students’ unions in Trinity College, DIT and NUI Galway, whose delegates have been mandated to vote in his favour at the presidential election. Kelly, meanwhile, has secured the votes of UCC as well as the support of Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster.

Asked if he felt optimistic about his chances for election, Redmond said that he is “taking absolutely nothing for granted” and would “fight for every vote.”

If elected, Redmond has promised to use the combined resources of USI and its member unions to lobby the government on the reformation of the grant system, seeking the introduction of online applications, the direct payment of grant money into students’ bank accounts, and the establishment of a centralised grants authority. Redmond also expressed interest in attracting non-affiliated students’ unions, such as that of DCU, back to the USI fold.

USI’s Annual Congress began yesterday and continues until Thursday. At Congress, all USI-affiliated unions send delegates to elect the officer board for the following year, as well as vote on a number of motions and constitutional amendments. Elections will take place today. Redmond would become the first UCD student to lead the national student movement since Tom Duke was elected USI President in 1993.

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