Students’ Union Presidential Candidate: Niall Gaffney

Interviewed by Sorcha O’Connor

Why are you running for election?

I think the role of Students’ Union President is an absolutely essential one and I think the person who fills that role has to be confident, experienced and passionate about the role – and I think I fit that category.

What key skills/personality traits should an SU President have?

In my opinion an absolutely essential set of skills that a president has to have is negotiation. You have to be a mediator between students and the university management and staff. I think from my undergrad in Law and I think from my experience in the Students Union as convenor that I have acquired that set of skills.

Describe what you think being SU President is about.

I think the Students’ Union President is the physical embodiment of the student voice. You’re put there by students with a very strong mandate to stand up for people who haven’t the time or can’t stand up to university staff, or to be the voice for the many student services that are at risk.

Outline your main objectives if elected.

I’ve categorised everything into four areas: campaigns, student services, engagement and representation.

For campaigns, we run some fantastic weeks during the year here from SHAG week to Mental Health Week to Destress Week but I truly think we need to ground more of our campaigns. I think we need to get them back to really prioritising student issues, many things that effect every student rather than just closed groups.

With student services, we’ve seen so many services cut in the last couple of years and in the last couple of years we’ve just been dealt blow after blow. We’ve seen repeat fees skyrocket, we’ve seen the cloakroom closed down to almost unworkable hours, we’ve seen shops, services, cut altogether and coffee stations disappear. I think it’s important we focus back on these, these were utilities that were used by students nearly every day.

Enagement: Engagement is a very difficult thing and at the moment, it is unfortunate thing to say, it’s at an all-time low. I think to boost engagement and to get everyone involved and passionate about the Union in some capacity is to have a bigger presence and we need to run more campaigns, especially on North Campus. We have a station up there, we really need to push it.

Finally, representation. A lot of people wouldn’t know the role the president plays at a national level as well as at university, meeting with USI on the president’s board and debating policy on a national level, which will ultimately be submitted to TDs or many bodies like the Higher Education Authority.

What are the key points of your manifesto?

So hopefully when people look at my manifesto, people will see that I am students first, number one priority, everything. Student services are absolutely essential – when I say services, I mean the likes of cloakroom, or free services and very, very cheap services that students can use and I really hope they capture the essence of the manifesto, we really are going to ground the Students’ Union, we’re going to bring it back to every student.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to stress that at this time of turnover of Students’ Union President that it is extremely important that students have their voices heard at maximum capacity and I really do feel with my experience, passion and the support of the Students’ Union behind me, we can put students at number one.

Drop us a comment!