A campaign has been initiated in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) calling for the resignation of TCD Students’ Union President Tom Lenihan.
The campaign is being steered Eoin Silke, a former LGBT Rights Officer of TCDSU. Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Silke’s said, “In the simplest terms, I don’t believe that someone who has cheated in an exam should represent students as president of their union.”
Lenihan’s recent interviews in relation to his struggles with depression and the circumstances leading to his cheating, coupled with the beginning of the academic year, have been attributed to the reignition of the campaign that began during the summer break.
In response to calls that he is being “insensitive” to the troubles faced by Lenihan in the wake of his diagnosis, Silke says he “sympathises fully with Tom’s mental health issues” but noted that Lenihan himself recognised that they did “not excuse” his actions.
A motion is yet to be passed by TCDSU Student Council in relation to this issue and Silke will need 500 student signatures in order to have a referendum called on the matter.
Silke’s concern is that, where Lenihan was elected before the controversy arose, there can be doubt as to whether he retains the support that put him in the position in the first place.
Lenihan does not believe that his position has been compromised in the eyes of students and agreed that what he did was “wholly wrong and unacceptable.” In a recent article that featured in the University Times in support of Lenihan retaining his office, it was suggested that “if [he] is successfully impeached, it will send out a clear message to those with mental illness that we don’t trust them to hold a sabbatical office,” though Silke himself said the issues gave “context” to his cheating.
A recent study conducted in Ireland, Germany, Portugal and Hungary as part of a European collaborative suicide-prevention project highlighted that one in three people in Ireland would not vote for a politician if they knew they had been depressed.
The research contained in the survey titled “Optimising Suicide Prevention Programmes and their Implementation in Europe” indicated that, while attitudes towards mental health have improved in recent years, significant numbers still do not feel as comfortable with those with mental health problems.