Students’ Union Election Special

In this section of the website, you will be guided through interviews with all of the election candidates, as well as given information on voting, and the upcoming abortion referendum. Simply click on any link to go to the page you want to read…



Being President 101: Words of wisdom from Paul Curley PLUS interviews with the presidential candidates.

So you want to be Education Officer?: Words of wisdom from Conor Stitt PLUS interviews with the education candidates.

So yo want to be Welfare Officer?: Words of wisdom from Dami Adebari PLUS interviews with the welfare candidates.

The Abortion Referendum: Debates for the Yes and No side.

C’Mon Vote for R-ON: A humorous take on RON.

Carey for President: An interview with Brian Carey of the College Bar Party.


Vote, damn you!

By Joyce Fahy

If a piece of food was snatched out of your mouth, you’d want it back, wouldn’t you? Just like if the right to vote was taken away from you, you’d cry and protest in dismay.  Every student on payment of the student levy is automatically a member of the Students’ Union.

But, why should you vote? Think you are not involved in student affairs? Wrong. You’ve used the library, went to a club and/or society, used a college computer and went to exams at some stage (I hope)! The student union represents you on all of the aforementioned, and more.

Still not bothered enough to vote? The thing about voting is that by choosing not to vote, you still count. It’s the same thing as choosing to remain silent when your partner turns to you and says “What do you want to name the baby? Because I was thinking Dorkface sounded nice.”

Do you really want to be the person who stayed silent when their child was named Dorkface?

One reason that people don’t vote is that they don’t want to feel responsible for the person who wins. But by not voting you are still responsible.

If for no other reason: vote for the craic. Don’t give someone you don’t like, or don’t think suitable, a shot at winning. Don’t be one of those people who complain about the outcome when you haven’t even bothered to vote.

Be a voter! Contribute to the choosing of the members who run your Students’ Union!  You might even be able to put it on your CV!

How do I vote? The voting process explained

By Conor Lane

The Student Union President, Education Officer and the Welfare Officer will be elected on Thursday 7 March, 2013.

The term of office for the elected Officers of the Union runs from 1 July until 30 June the following year.

Who is voted in is up to you. Voting is straightforward and easy. Simply show up at one of the designated polling stations that will be advertised around campus i.e.: An Bialann (the Canteen) (10am-8pm), Áras na Mac Léinn (11am-8pm) and the Engineering Building (12pm-4pm).

The only thing you’ll need to bring with you is your NUI Galway student card, which you will show at one of the stations where you will then receive a ballot paper and pen.

List your candidates in order of preference on the ballot and it is important to remember that you don’t have to vote for more than one person.

Finish by folding your ballot up and placing it in the ballot box and voila, your vote has been cast and will be one of many votes that will decide the direction in which the SU will go next year.

Club Captains and Society Auditors can also vote for the Club’s Captain and Societies Chairperson on the day with strictly one vote per club for Clubs’ Captain and one vote per society for Societies’ Chairperson.

If you have an interest in how your SU is run and would like to have a say, then casting your vote will ensure that your opinion is accounted for.

If you’re still not sure on how exactly to vote or have further questions, visit NUI Galway’s Student Union’s website at  for further information.

The roles explained

By Jane Kearns

The full time Students’ Union elections are set to take place on 10 March; all students will have the opportunity to vote on the day and ultimately decide who gets voted in as the president and two vice presidents. But before the voting begins, students need to do their research and find out exactly what it means to be a full time SU Officer in NUI Galway.

The Students’ Union is broken into full time and part time officers, all of which are voted in by the student body, the part-time officers are voluntary positions and go unpaid, but the full time officers are paid a salary of €22,000 for the year they work for the SU, so students should choose wisely when voting. There are three full time positions; President, Education Officer and Welfare Officer, they all play different roles within the SU and offer a variety of services to the student body.

The Students’ Union President is the head of the SU in NUI Galway; their main job is to manage the Students’ Union including Union finances, campaigns and initiatives. The President represents students’ interests through meeting with management and participating on University Committees. They are chairperson of Students’ Union Commercial Services, the company which runs the College Bar, Smokey’s, the SU Shop, the Hub and the Wall. They also serve on the Board of Directors of: Seirbhisi Comhaltas na Mac Léinn, the Health Unit and Flirt Fm. The President is the spokesperson for the Union and leads any lobbying or student issues within NUI Galway and on a national level.

There are two vice presidents on the SU, they are the Education and Welfare Officers; the Education is responsible for co-ordination of the SU Council, representing students on University committees which relate to academic life, dealing with students on a one to one basis and keeping the Executive and students informed of all educational matters. They are also responsible for the provision of academic information through the publication or leaflets/books and organising and chairing the Education Forum.

The Welfare Officer is responsible for co-ordination and delivery of welfare campaigns on relevant welfare issues such as SHAG week. Like the Education Officer they represent students on University committees and deal with students on a one to one basis, keep the Executive and students informed of all welfare matters, organise and Chair the Welfare forum and provide welfare information to the wider student body.

Both of the vice positions mean being clued in to all student welfare and academic issues, being a voice for students within the University and also being an important member of the Executive Committee. As Vice- Presidents, these officers are very involved with the day-to-day running of the Union, and help with all Union campaigns and events. All of the full time officers are also heavily involved in the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and regularly represent NUI Galway on a national level, so it is essential that all students do their research before casting their vote on 10 March.

What’s the point of the Students’ Union?

By Cormac O’Malley

The Students’ Union is a representative body for all 17,000 students who attend NUI Galway. Students of all disciplines and age are represented by the Union. The disciplines are represented through the position of convenors, and mature students by a Mature Students Officer. For any students who may have a disability there is the equality officer.

On a more general scale, there are the more senior positions such as the President and two Vice-Presidens who work as Welfare officer and Education Officer.

The Welfare Officer deals with mental, physical and sexual health issues. It is generally the students’ personal problems that are the responsibility of those who occupy this position.

The Education Officer deals with academic issues such as grants, fees, election of class reps and advice for those who have exam or essay problems.

The President of the Students’ Union is essentially the figure between students and the Union. It is the President who communicates first and foremost with the USI, state boards and College authorities.

The responsibilities of the Student Union that exist regardless of who’s serving on the committee are manifold. The running of The College Bar, Smokey’s Café, the SU shop, The Wall Café, The Hub Café and Caifé na Gaeilge all lies in the hands of the Students’ Union. Another given responsibility is Freshers’ fortnight.

You, the reader surely remember the beginning of your first year when several activities were taking place within the first two weeks specifically for newcomers, as you were back then. The organization of a lot of music and comedy events in the College bar and elsewhere on Campus also lies with the Students’ Union. So, it is not wrong for one to say that the Students’ Union contributes to all aspects of college life: social, personal and academic.

To ask what is the point of the Students’ Union is to question the cohesion of students on both a local and a national level. It’s been said by people before that the Students’ Union is pointless. But if it were abolished tomorrow  it would affect a huge amount of people – from the Student who needs help getting an already delayed grant, to the student who is in crisis emotionally, or even to the student who wants to get involved with college life but has no idea how. It is these students who need representation.

So, think of all the work the Students’ Union does; do not become soaked up by the sponge of cynicism and remember when voting next week, that there are those who might need services that you don’t. We are all human after all.

The Part-Time Officers that make up the Students’ Union

By Ann-Marie Donelan

The Students Union operates with a fifteen member Executive Committee which meets once a week and is answerable to the Students Union Council, and therefore to the student members of the union. This committee is made up of three former students in paid full-time positions of President, Education Officer and Welfare Officer.

With it being election time at the moment, these positions, or rather who will fill them for the coming year is a hot topic. It is hard also to miss the host of candidates battling it out in the hope of gaining one of these positions, with posters and campaigners in t-shirts putting forth catchy slogans and promises, to be seen at every corner of the campus.

Although it is of great importance, these candidates, some of whom will soon be responsible for the running of the SU, get the attention and coverage required for students to be able to cast votes confidently, the 12 other part time positions on this committee must be filled by full time students just a week later.

These 12 positions are of utmost importance to the running of the SU and students should have knowledge of what it is these un-paid volunteers actually do.

Firstly Oifigeach na Gaeilge promotes the use and awareness of the Irish language and culture within the Union as well as providing assistance to Irish language societies on campus.

The Equality Officer must promote the ideals of equal opportunities with the Union and University while also providing a confidential listening and referral service to students.

The Societies Chairperson represents the views of societies to the University and Executive Committee while providing assistance to the day-to-day activities of societies.

The post-graduate students of the college are represented by a Post-Graduate Officer, who also encourages the inclusion and activity of post-grad students in Union events.

The Clubs Captain plays a vital role in student life as they work with the Director of Sport and Development and Participation Officer to ensure the provision of resources to clubs.

Mature students are not forgotten by the Union as a Mature Students Officer represents them, promoting their development and integration throughout the college.

A host of Convenors, each representing a relevant school of the college makes up the rest of the committee, acting as chairperson of Class Reps of their discipline.

Elections for the part time SU positions for the coming year 2013/2014 will be held on 14 March and all of us at Sin encourage students to make sure they cast their votes, as these positions are vitally important to the running of the SU.

How do student politics impact a future career?

By Marése O’Sullivan

Joining the SU as an officer means the opportunity to get a taster of the world of politics and to pursue an individual role which has unique responsibilities in university life. For over a century, the NUI Galway Students’ Union (SU) has represented the students of NUI Galway, with the aim of “promot[ing], defend[ing] and vindicat[ing]” the rights of its members. The work of the S.U. Officers is unlike any other: the power to really contribute to the lives and experiences of NUI Galway students. The only eligibility required to be nominated for a position is to be a member of NUI Galway Students’ Union.

There are many similarities between the Students’ Union and the inner workings of the Irish government. All of this year’s SU candidates are learning about the structure of elections, how to canvass, and the difficulties of earning enough votes. However, the three full-time, paid positions of the SU who supervise the day-to-day running of the Union – President, Vice President/Education Officer and Vice President/Welfare Officer – are only one year long each before the next election, so the impact that each Officer makes in the role must be big. Fifteen part-time Students’ Union Executive Officers also support the work of the S.U.

A form of Irish parliament has existed since the thirteenth century. The appointed ministers of the Government must be between 7 and 15 members, all belonging to the national parliament, the Oireachtas. The ministers are overseen by the Taoiseach, who is appointed by the President of Ireland upon nomination of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas. The Government is directly elected at least once every five years by Irish residents over the age of eighteen years, through the system of proportional representation.

A dominant role, or even a small responsibility, in student politics can prepare future leaders of this country for a demanding governmental position. NUI Galway graduate and former S.U. President (1964-1965), Michael D. Higgins, is currently President of Ireland, while Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade – Eamon Gilmore – studied psychology at NUI Galway and served as both S.U. President from 1974-1975 and USI President from 1976-1978. More recently, 2002-2003 S.U. President, Leona Byrne, is a Human Resources Generalist, while 2011-2012 S.U. President Emmet Connolly is a Tutor in Land Law at NUI Galway.

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