Upon investigation of the finances and discovering “not only a backlog but a certain level of debt” de Brún employed an external accounting firm to assess the Union’s financial situation as well as to carry out the role Carmody would usually have performed.
The level of the debt is still unknown, but is described by de Brún as “not insignificant.” The prospect of taking out a loan “would be on the table” and he insists that “if we do need money, there are various ways of getting money.”
The investigation is still ongoing but de Brún states that it’s quite evident that “there is some debt there now” and that “we’ve learned enough to realise that the structures and the way we’ve done business in the past haven’t been strong enough and that we need to change them permanently.”
In an attempt to rectify the situation, de Brún is attempting to implement “completely new financial systems from the ground up” in all of the SU’s different areas of activity. He considers the upcoming constitutional review “an excellent opportunity to ensure solid structures and to make the Union better than it’s ever been – it certainly is difficult and it’s a lot of work but it’s a fantastic opportunity for the future.”
Despite the Union’s current financial situation, de Brún is determined to “minimise and hopefully avoid completely” cuts to frontline services that will affect students such as welfare and education.
To prevent a similar situation arising again, de Brún is moving towards making a company limited by guarantee with reporting structures and boards of directors under which there will be a legal obligation to produce audited accounts every year. This would have “proper accountability and it would ensure transparency.”
In addition, a considerable emphasis is being put on “earning more money – we’ve already brought in a lot of saving in different areas, we’ve worked very hard in gaining sponsorship for both Ents and the likes of Orientation Week and the Freshers‘ Guide, which operated at a profit this year”.
He adds that “serious credit has to be paid to the Vice Presidents here, all four of them, because I’ve requested that they act as frugally as possible because we are experiencing financial difficulty and they’ve been very efficient and not wasteful, my hope is that we can make the bulk of any necessary cuts just through efficiencies and I’m confident that we can do that.”
“I hope that by agreeing to the interview today, I’m proving that I want to be transparent as possible with this entire process of sorting out the finances and the whole structural reforms” he concludes.