Originally published in Volume IV, Issue 3 on 22nd October by Paul Gill.
Mr. Darragh Purcell has resigned his sabbatical position as Students’ Union Entertainments Officer. He is to take up the position of Events Manager at the “Mean Fiddler” on November 3rd.
In a move without precendent in the 21 year history of the Entertainments Office, Mr. Purcell tendered his resignation to the Students’ Union President on Wednesday last, October 15th. He must now resign formally in writing to the Senior Returning Officer, Mr. Tom Brazil.
In a statement given the University Observer, SU President, Ian Walsh, said “the resignation of any sabbatical officer during term is to be regretted and I hope we can smooth over things and make way for the election of a new officer as quickly as possible so that we may continue with our campaigns.”
There has been some speculation that Purcell was frustrated in his plans for Ents this year by the tight budgetary control which Ian Walsh, has been exercising. Mr. Walsh has drafted a budget to which he wants the SU to adhere strictly. This is in contrast to the approach of last year’s President, Shane Fitzgerald.
Purcell admits that Walsh’s budget has frustrated his ambitions for Ents this year “to a small extent”, but says that it had nothing to do with his resignation which he tendered “due to being offered a position elsewhere which I felt I could not turn down.”
An election will take place in the coming weeks to decide Mr. Purcell’s successor. At the moment, two individuals – Heather Boland and Michael O Conchubhair – have made clear their intentions to seek election.
Heather Boland is senior member of Mr Purcell’s Ents Crew and is known to be his preferred candidate. Michael O Conchubhair is currently the auditor of UCD’s largest student society, the C&E. Both candidates are external repeat students and are therefore not members of the students’ union. They must each apply for membership of the union before becoming eligible candidates.
Mr. Purcell was elected to the position of Entertainments Officer for the last academic year 1996/97 and had chosen to stay on in the job for the current year. His tenure was not without controversy and he has received much bad publicity last year for sustaining record losses of £55,000.
Mr. Purcell insisted the losses incurred during his first year as Ents Officer were unavoidable and that as a result of his top quality events last year, he was already seeing the benefits this year. He claimed that already this year he had almost trebled the amount of sponsorship revenue generated for the whole of the first term in 1996.
Mr. Purcell has often stated that his “number one priority is to put on quality events at fair prices.” In response to questions about the losses incurred, he has said that their magnitude was acceptable “in view of the wider, long-term goals.”
Asked by the University Observer what those long-term goals were, Purcell answered, “developing a dynamic entertainment programme; increasing the profile and quality of acts who perform in UCD; offering a better quality entertainment service; advancing an Ents ethos in means for new talent to perform here; and ultimately making Student Union Entertainment a real, viable, commercial, and respectable promotions network in Ireland.”
With his resignation having been tendered, the achievement of those long-term goals would seem unlikely.