UCD’s political party societies faced off against one another in a ‘Mock Dáil’ organised jointly by the political party societies and the Commerce and Economics society on Tuesday last week. The annual debate was held in the Fitzgerald Chamber. The three motions that were debated sought to abolish water charges, privatise Bus Éireann and make it mandatory for TD’s representing Gaeltacht areas to be fluent in Irish.
Each party was given four minutes to speak on a topic in favour or against a motion, where they would outline their party’s position on the issue.
Exchanges between parties got heated, with event organisers encouraging heckling to add to the atmosphere. During the first motion on Irish language representation in Gaeltacht areas, Ógra Sinn Féin’s Stiofán Ó Briain said the government need to act immediately to try counteract the decline being experienced by Gaeltacht areas.
Young Fine Gael’s Gearóid Ó Greacháin defended the government’s track record on the Irish language, highlighting the rise of Irish being spoken in urban areas and stating that forcing people to speak Irish as a public representative is undemocratic.
Tensions rose when the motion on water charges began. Ógra Fianna Fáil sided with the motion, saying that water charges were untenable in their current form and should be abolished. But the Young Fine Gael minority government weren’t alone in their defence of keeping water charges, with UCD Labour Youth chair Liam van der Spek insisted that charges must be implemented, if water services and infrastructure is to be developed.
On the final issue of privatising Bus Éireann, UCD Social Democrats, Labour Youth, Ógra Sinn Féin and Ógra Fianna Fáil all opposed the idea of privatisation. The opposition asked that the government intervene immediately in the talks, with each party making reference to the Minister for Transport Shane Ross who says he won’t intervene in the striking action.
YFG insisted that privatisation is key to enabling more efficient, higher quality service, claiming the current Bus Éireann system is on the verge of collapse, and can only continue under new measures.
Speaking to the College Tribune in the Mock ‘Dáil Bar’ in the Clubhouse after the debate, UCD Ógra Fianna Fáil chairperson Cormac Tighe said ‘it was a great, enjoyable event. The debates were lively and articulate, the level of engagement was positive and it was fantastic to see the respect shown by all parties to each other regardless of their views’.
Oisin McCanna Politics Editor