Offer of Resignation from the SU President as Vote Rigging Crisis Deepens

Originally published in Volume II, Issue 4 on 8th November 1995 by Observer Reporter. Student Union President, Loughlin Deegan, says he will resign if allegations of vote rigging in last year’s sabbatical elections are proved to be correct and are established to involve a substantial number of votes cast for him. Deegan says that in such an event he will step down in order to allow the Presidential election between himself and Henry Conlon held last April to take place again. An Independent Appeals Board meeting on Wednesday decided that it would be take ten written submissions on all allegations of electoral fraud. These submissions will not take the form of sworn affidavits as originally intended. Senior sources in the Union have claimed that these submissions will include new allegations involving candidates in elections over the last number of years. In another development relating to last Wednesday’s SU Council meeting, at a meeting of the Fianna Fail Officer Board on Tuesday night with staff from headquarters, the Kevin Barry Cumann auditor, Mick Smith, offered to resign for the sake of the Cumann over his public allegation that Lisa McDonald ran for Press and Publicity Officer solely to shaft another candidate. This follows days of speculation about a No Confidence vote in Smith at the next Kevin Barry Cumann meeting. However, Smith was asked to think about his offer by Joan Keating from Fianna Fail HQ and is unlikely to make a final decision until next week. It is believed that both Mick Smith and Cormac Moore, who made the original allegations at Union Council were “rapped on the knuckles” by the rest of the if the officer board who were angry at the manner in which allegations were made. In a prepared statement read out during the President’s report at the SU Council meeting of November 1st, Mr.Cormac Moore claimed that he had been asked to vote twice by last year’s chair, Mr. Damian McDonald. Mr. Moore stated that on the afternoon of last year’s Sabbatical elections he was summoned to Mr. McDonald’s office in the Economics Department. He claims that upon his arrival, McDonald flicked through a number of student cards which he had in his possession and, finding one which bore a photo resembling Mr. Moore, instructed him to vote again using this card. In a written statement submitted to the University Observer, Mr. McDonald described Mr. Moore’s accusations as “totally untrue” and claims that Moore’s actions were motivated by his own political ambitions within the Union and not just by his declared desire to see justice done. He believes this claim is supported by the fact Moore “read out this statement at a meeting instead of presenting it to the Independent Appeals Board where proper action could be taken.” Mr. McDonald stressed that the allegations were made “eight months after the incident and five minutes before the election”. Deegan has also come in for criticism from senior union sources for not ensuring the allegations went to the Independent Allegations Board before they were read out publicly at council. Mr. Deegan has defended his actions stating that; “One of the reasons for bringing this out in the open is that other people will come forward when they see that these people aren’t all powerful.” “While it won’t help at all with the public image of the union in the short term to have that kind of have that kind of row at the first meeting of union council, no one will be able to say we concealed information on possible election fraud. It will stand to us in the long run that we brought these allegations out into the open, especially if we expose the culprits.” On criticisms of his ruling points of order out of order at the meeting and allegations that he abused his position as chair of the meeting, Mr. Deegan said; “The constitution very clearly states that the President convenes the first meeting of council. I ruled on the first point of order and then ruled that no further points of order would be taken on that specific issue.” “The allegations in the statement related to sabbatical elections, that’s why I allowed them to be read out during the President’s report. Once it came to the elections, I would hand over to the Returning Officer. When it became clear that I’d be drawn into the matter being discussed, I withdrew from the chair."Defending his decision to make his allegations at council, Moore said he had “lost everything” and that “none of it was for personal ambition”. He went on to state that his motives were “purely to rid the Union of bad ethics which prevail at the moment. I will stand over everything in my statement until the day I die.”