FitzGerald wins Presidency in face of strong anti-Union Vote

Originally published in Volume II, Issue 10 on 12th March 1996 by Roddy O'Sullivan. Welfare Officer Shane FitzGerald was the victor in last Friday’s election for Student Union President in an poll that saw Students Against Corruption protest candidate, Barry Byrne, receive nearly 1200 first preferences. Byrne was beaten into third place Science student, Jennifer English, but the self-styled ‘SAC’ candidate comfortably won the faculties of Commerce and Engineering and was second in Architecture, Social Science, Arts and Agriculture.The SAC candidate’s transfers favoured Shane Fitzgerald over Jennifer English, putting FitzGerald’s election beyond doubt. Donal MacFhearraigh of the Socialist Worker Student Society came fourth with 181 votes. However, Mr Fitzgerald could not be deemed elected by the Returning Officer at Friday’s count as the Independent Appeals Board of the Students’ Union still had to rule on the fracas involving a Presidential candidate at the Science hustings earlier that  week which could potentially result in the disqualification of the individual from the election. The count itself was marred by an incident in which a Services-imposed bouncer violently confronted a student who had brought alcohol into the theatre. Speaking at the count, Shane FitzGerald said his victory wasn’t a triumph for an individual or a group, but for all those who were dissatisfied with the union as it currently was. Barry Byrne and Donal Mac Fhearraigh had also shown the amount of deep disillusionment with the union there was amongst the students.He added that he was only incoming President thanks to a campaign team the likes of which UCD had never witnessed before and concluded with the hope that Jennifer English’s supporters would continue to play a vital role in the Student Union and that Barry Byrne would be involved in council next year. Barry Byrne started his speech by calling for “silence from the hacks”. “This is a grave moment in our time. A revolution has begun. A thousand people have said they were fed up with corruption. The rest must be getting it up the bum. Nice one Shane. You deserved to get in.  What’s all this I’m hearing about transfers? While I’m on the subject I think Roy Keane should go to Celtic.” Mr Byrne then commended Jenny English on her campaign and said he had a lot of sympathy with what Donal MacFhearraigh said; “I’m Donal with yellow posters.” He concluded with some rather controversial remarks on the IRA and the Canary Wharf bombing and promised he would run for USI President. Jennifer English thanked her campaign team and those who voted for her. She said she hoped her campaign had brought the issues to the fore. Donal MacFhearraigh said he hadn’t hidden his politics over the course of the campaign. He said he voted the size of the protest vote showed that the electorate wanted change in the union. He concluded by saying that neither he nor the Socialist Worker Student Society were going away. Jennifer English seemed to know after the Science result was announced that she had lost the Presidency, despite nearly four years work to attain it. Even though she won the Science with a huge majority - 470 votes to Shane Fitzgerald’s 97 and Barry Byrne’s 83, she had expected a turnout of 200 higher in her own faculty. Nor would she have anticipated being beaten into third place in the Arts/Commerce block by Barry Byrne. Shane FitzGerald’s campaign team also felt they had scored better than her with evening students, who they had campaigned intensely.The election was a busy one for the Returning Officer, Ian Walsh and his deputies, Rosa Fanning and Michael McNicholas. Barry Byrne lost the use of his stand in the Arts Block for an incident when he ran through a lecture theatre with pictures of Jennifer English and Shane FitzGerald on his boxer shorts. Byrne was also find for roller blading on the Arts concourse. Jennifer English was fined for teaser posters before the campaign began. The posters did not bear her name, but had the word ‘initiate’ written in the same style as it subsequently appeared on her posters.Shane Fitzgerald was also fined for having a stand in Earlsfort Terrace without proper clearance. The pages featuring interviews with Barry Byrne and Shane Fitzgerald were removed from many issues of the University Observer in Earlsfort Terrace. Deputy Returning Officer, Rossa Fanning subsequently requested that another hundred copies be sent to the Terrace to compensate for the apparent sabotage. A referendum calling for the quorum for a meeting of the Bar committee to be reduced to five, which was held on the same day as the Presidential election, was passed by a margin of eight to one.