Election Special: Welfare Vice-President


Profile and analysis by Catriona Laverty

Scott Ahearn is a history graduate and incumbant SU Welfare Officer. He is running for the position for the third time and is unopposed.

Scott Ahearn is an election veteran at this stage – his third election campaign in three years sees him hoping to retain his current position as Welfare Vice-President. Ahearn believes that it takes more than just one year to complete the promises on any manifesto, and that any candidate who says otherwise is lying. He’s re-running this year because “there are things I want to continue on in my manifesto, there are things I want to finish off in my year.”

There are indeed several ideas in his current manifesto that hark back to its year-old counterpart. Although he admits that his previous conviction that sabbats work to office hours is unfeasible “I’ve learned a lot, I’ve given a year of my life to this job, taken phone calls at two in the morning – at four in the morning”.

There are some controversial points in his manifesto, including initiating a campaign to introduce over the counter emergency contraception, which he says would eliminate the need to visit GPs for the prescription, thus driving down the costs for students. However he doesn’t appear to fully appreciate that there could be negative aspects, and the idea smacks of one not quite fully thought through.

While Ahearn is not involved in the running of the campaign, his continued, and unyielding support of Please Talk is one area of concern after allegations of misuse of funds by the founders of the campaign. However, his support does appear to be founded innocently in the merits of Please Talk rather than through any links to its founders – who include several of his predecessors.

One further admirable idea is to fully introduce the medical card system to the Student Health Centre, although he has to be pushed on how students with medical cards would retain their registration with their home GP, and is somewhat vague on how that might be achieved.

Pinning Ahearn down on any contentious issue is a difficult task. When asked whether or not he is in favour of the proposed health centre levy, he talks in circles, hiding behind the idea that as an elected student representative, he should not sway votes “it’s not for me to say yes or no, but what we’re doing is engaging the opinion of the students”. With matters such as this one on the table, it’s fortunate that Ahearn is running for the Welfare office, and not one with more responsibilty at the highest decision making levels.

Ahearn is undoubtedly an experienced candidate, and has had a rather successful year so far. While it is not the past year that is under review here (that will come later), it’s the yard stick against which his future performance will be measured.

What he has shown this year is that he is eminently suited to (and one suspects more comfortable in) dealing with personal cases rather than sitting on committees and in forums. This, coupled with his experience from a year on the job, makes him an extremely capable candidate to deliver more of the same next year.