The UCD Young Fine Gael (YFG) society is in breach of society regulations by societies that are branches of political parties are to be run, The University Observer has learned. A source informed The University Observer that the YFG society is an affiliate branch of the Young Fine Gael national party, and by having members pay to become official members of the national party, it is in breach of UCD society regulations which bar individual societies requiring their members to pay and affiliate with external organisations.
Chair of UCD YFG Killian Bourke responded to these claims by admitting that the society is an affiliate branch of Young Fine Gael, but stating, “students who register at recruitment pay €2 similar to all societies, and they are registered as a member of the UCD society. This money is not used to pay Young Fine Gael national headquarters, it is used for society events throughout the year.” Bourke added “members who wish to become a member of YFG as well as the society, pay an additional €2 to join the organisation, giving them rights as a member of the party including for selection conventions, leadership election, attending party events and having votes on party policy.”
However, Article 3 of the UCD YFG society’s constitution states that “each member must be a member of a Branch, his membership of the Organisation [Young Fine Gael] remaining effective only while he is a member of an affiliated Branch.” National Youth Officer for Fine Gael Ciara McMahon confirmed that the UCD Young Fine Gael society is an official affiliate branch of Young Fine Gael. According to McMahon “each member pays an affiliation fee, there is no cost to the branch as a whole.”
This is in direct contrast to how other UCD branches of political parties operate. Ógra Sinn Féin UCD Public Relations Officer Ryan Brogan said that in the case of their society, “we do not pay any fees to the [national] party at any time as this is against university regulations.” He explained that Ógra Sinn Féin acquired the naming rights of the national party when “the party had to second the name of our Cumann, but that is merely a formality.” Brogan stated that the society regularly “invites TDs, Senators, MEPs, MPs, MLAs and Councillors in to speak to our members,” but any involvement from members of the UCD society and the national Sinn Féin organisation is completely voluntary.
This was reiterated by the current Cathaoirleach of the Kevin Barry Cumann James Mulholland, who explained that their society also do not pay fees to the Fianna Fáil national party, “as the recognised UCD FF Cumann, our role is to act as a university platform for the party.”
A source also claimed that a meeting took place between Killian Bourke and the Societies Council, which Bourke confirmed. “I requested to meet with the Societies Council to ensure that procedure was being followed correctly in conjunction with the societies policy. I know the societies council take the policy in relation to political parties seriously, and as a new Chairperson of the branch, I wanted to ensure I was not in any way in breach of that policy.” The University Observer reached out the Societies Council for comment, but they refused to answer questions on whether YFG pay for the affiliations to the Young Fine Gael national party, what was discussed at the meeting or what possible sanctions Young Fine Gael might face for being found in breach of society policy.