The College Tribune sat down with Students’ Union President-Elect, Marcus O’Halloran, in his first interview following his victory. O’Halloran spoke about his rocky election and campaign and plan he has for the coming year as he takes over the presidency of UCDSU.
When asked about the initial response to his election O’Halloran stated that he had received a mainly positive response although remains fully aware of the backlash which followed his win. His response to this was simple, stating “my way of proving those people wrong won’t be over social media.” He also went on to state that he wants to deliver a strong message that both himself and UCD is completely against racism, sexism, ageism and homophobia and this is something is has already begun working on.
When speaking about his membership of the Facebook page ‘Girls I’d shift if I were tipsy’, which O’Halloran came under fire for, he calls his actions “ignorant”. O’Halloran goes on to comment that his ignorance is something that is common amongst many UCD students who do not realise that this type of behaviour is unacceptable, this is something he seeks to change.
O’Halloran remains fully aware that students may feel uneasy about him leading such campaigns when he himself has partaken in such behaviour. “I’d completely agree … If I was on the other side of the table how could you trust someone to do that”. “You never realise your own faults until they’re pointed out to you and I find that was a huge huge fault of mine” he also added.
During the interview O’Halloran also spoke about his plans for the coming year.
When asked about what role he and UCDSU plan to have in making it easier for students to find suitable accommodation in the next academic year, O’Halloran spoke about how he plans to create a shuttle bus service from the Luas station in Windy Arbour to UCD.
“I feel that this opens up a lot of options for students. It means that students don’t have to solely live in the Donnybrooke, Clonskeagh and Stillorgan areas, and that students can go back further into town to find accommodation,”
O’Halloran stated that he had consulted his former opponent Michael Foley and current UCDSU president Feargal Hynes about the achievability of such a move, and alluded that both felt it was possible.
When asked about how he and UCDSU would go about combatting the element of discrimination that students face when trying to rent from landlords across Dublin, O’Halloran stated that as he saw it, with the shortage of rental accommodation across Dublin, landlords are obviously looking to rent their properties to working professionals who can pay more for them.
“More houses are needed in Dublin, but that is beyond our grasp. It’s almost getting too expensive to live and go to college up here [in Dublin] anymore,” he said.
“I think we need to extend how far away we can live, to give students other options, because realistically the union can do very little to tackle the housing crisis in Dublin,”
Shortly before the UCDSU elections former President Michael Gallagher was part of a campaign that hopes to see UCDSU rejoin the Union of Students Ireland (USI). When asked about where he see’s himself and the Union standing on that next September, O’Halloran stated:
“This sort of thing has to go to the students, and whatever they feel after a preferendum is what we have to stand by. From speaking to the executive that are currently in office, the general consensus is that UCD is doing better now it is out of the USI,”
Although not fully knowing all the details as of yet, when asked how he competent he felt in handling the Students’ Union finances O’Halloran stated he felt very capable. “It was always said ‘he’s just the Ag lad’, I actually do Agri-Business … I’ve been doing financial analysis and accounting modules since first year so it’s not something I’m going into the dark with.” O’Halloran then went on to state how he felt UCD was in a strong position in regards to everything for next year.
As the end of the year approaches and students begin to turn their attention toward the ambiguous UCD ball, O’Halloran reaffirmed that the only place for the UCD Ball was on campus.
“I believe the UCD Ball should be on campus. Holding it off campus is far too expensive. If it doesn’t come back to campus this year I believe that we will have to put a plan in place straight away to make sure that it can be here for next year. It’s something that takes six months of discussions in order to ensure it happens.
O’Halloran and the 2015/2016 executive officially take office on the 14th of June.
-Rachel Carey & Lauren Tracey