On Friday 3 March, candidates in the annual NUI Galway Students’ Union election gathered in The View in Áras na Mac Léinn for a tense and suspenseful morning at the all-important count.
The election held on Thursday 2 March saw 3,450 students turn out to vote in the university, with 10 spoiled votes making a valid poll of 3,440.
The candidates certainly mixed it up this year with some inventive campaign videos and even some campaign hats for supporters of one nominee.
Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh reigned supreme on the day, deemed elected as Students’ Union president with 1,842 votes by the fourth count. Lorcán told SIN he had thoroughly enjoyed the campaign and was looking forward to delivering on his manifesto points in the coming academic year 2017-18.
“My time over the course of the campaign was an experience that I shall never forget,” said Lorcán.
“People gave me their time, concerns and ideas and I hope to return people’s trust in me over the course of the coming year by delivering on my manifesto points, and also by addressing issues brought to light by various students during the week.”
Among Lorcán’s main aims were to set up a food delivery service for students that would provide them with a week’s supply of food and recipes on a Sunday night that were within the student budget; to launch the Green Star initiative on campus to increase awareness of Mental Health services available for students; and to encourage the use of the Irish language on the bilingual campus of the university.
He was very appreciative of the efforts his canvassers and family and friends put in for him, and explained that running for election was something he would remember forever.
“It was a truly humbling experience to be elected and a moment that I will treasure as many of my closest friends along with my parents were there to share in the experience,” he said.
“Huge credit and respect must be given to my opposing candidates as they each came up to me and shook my hand and congratulated me. I hope that I can do them and the student body proud in the coming year and will be my very best to deliver a progressive, approachable and representative Students’ Union.”
Lorcán will be supported by two vice-presidents: Andrew Forde, elected as Education Officer on the day by 1,632 voters and Megan Reilly, elected as Welfare Officer by 1,650.
Like Lorcán, both Andrew and Megan were no strangers to the Students’ Union, all three having held or ran campaigns for part-time roles in the Union this year.
Andrew was very grateful to all the students who had turned out to vote for him in his race against Ciarán Mac Choncarraige, in what he described as “the most enjoyable and intense week of [his] college experience”.
“It is a massive honour to have been elected as your Vice President for Education,” said Andrew.
“To have had such a strong and wonderful team come out and canvass, to have had the opportunity to pitch our vision of what the SU should do to help students, and to have been given a mandate by the students of NUI Galway is all the encouragement needed to deliver on what we promised,” he continued.
“I plan to stick my manifesto up on the wall in the SU office and, working with both Megan, Lorcán and the SU team, go about implementing the change we stood for, one policy at a time.”
Megan was equally thrilled with her opportunity to make a difference for students of NUI Galway, running a campaign centred around mental health and equality.
“It was one of the best feelings in the world, I was ecstatic,” she said.
“I’m so proud of my team and what we achieved. They’re just the most wonderful people and I owe everything to them.”
Megan hopes to be a non-judgemental advisor for students and make her office an approachable place for students.
Part-time officers were also elected Friday 10 March. You can see the full results in our infographics for both elections inside this week’s SIN, available online and on campus Tuesday 14 March.
-By Sorcha O’Connor