After three days of voting during last week’s Student’s Union elections here in UCC, Computer Science student, Ben Dunlea was elected President by the student voters of UCC. Running up against Government student, Bea McCarthy, Ben fought a very popular and eye-catching campaign and in the end managed to scoop up just under 57% of all votes cast. The total valid poll for the election of President was 4,557, and this, along with polls for all other committee positions was particularly high given the small number of candidates that ran for positions this year.
Dunlea had previously been a member of the SU Committee when he was appointed Entertainments Officer. During his campaign, the President-elect ran on a manifesto which sought to address many of the challenges that students in UCC face on a daily basis. As well as aiming to confront issues surrounding areas such as housing, sustainability and education, Ben showed that he wanted to improve the overall student experience for every single student. The University Express’ ‘straw poll’ indicated that Dunlea was in a relatively comfortable position leading into the official counting sessions and this lead proved to be unassailable, despite the fact that Bea McCarthy closed the gap by a few percentage points.
Joining the President-elect on the SU Committee next year will be Entertainment’s Officer, Sophie O’Sullivan. The victory for O’Sullivan was one of the only results that the ‘straw poll’ did not predict correctly out of all positions and referenda alike. Barra Mclean had a very tight lead according to the poll in the lead up to the election but was within the margin for error. O’Sullivan secured 2,350 votes, translating to 52% of all valid votes. Although there was just over 200 votes between Sophie and Barra, a recount was deemed not to be required and O’Sullivan was deemed to be elected. The race for Ents Officer was extremely close this year as the results show and this garnered an enormous amount of interest on social media platforms once the final tally was released by current President, Alan Hayes in New Bar.
The position that created the most hype over the course of the last two weeks was for that of Communications Officer. David Condon was the only candidate to put himself forward for the role but his campaign experienced a rocky ride following remarks that he made at a hustings event. Controversy followed Condon from there on after and resulted in a credible threat posed by the re-open nominations category – RON. Although there was a small feeling that Condon faced an initial struggle, this ultimately proved not to be the case. The ‘straw poll’ suggested that he only had 54% backing from students for the position but this was blown totally out of the water when it came to the actual results. Condon won by a landslide, securing a total of 3,606 votes out of a possible 4,414. This represented an overall share of 82% of the vote, with the RON vote dying a death when the voting mattered.
The next position to be announced was that of Education Officer. Like the previous role, there was only one candidate that put themselves forward for the position, that being Catherine Dawson. The Applied Mathematics and Physics student cruised home to victory as predicted by the ‘straw poll’ which suggested earlier in the week that Dawson had over 70% of backing from her fellow students, with over 10% of students surveyed answering that they were still undecided. The official results saw the Officer-elect pick up many preference votes from those that were undecided and finished up with an incredible 91% of first preference votes. This was the biggest victory of the day by far.
The most hotly contested position was for Welfare Officer. This was the only position that saw three candidates running in opposition to one another. Of Naoise Crowley, Noel Brennan and Roisin Hussey, it was Crowley who was predicted to emerge as the winner. The ‘straw poll’ indicated that Crowley was heading for victory as he had a relatively strong lead over Brennan in second, followed closely by Hussey in third. The results on the day saw Hussey eliminated from the contest on the first recount as no one reached the required quota of 2,229. Of the second preference votes from Hussey voters, it was Crowley who picked up the most support, gaining an additional 469 votes compared to Brennan’s sum of 333. Crowley was deemed elected following this and ended up with 2,354 of votes cast.
Prior to the announcement of the Presidency results was the winner for the position of Deputy President and Campaigns Officer. This was another close race between two candidates on this occasion. Leading up to the week, polling suggested that Amy Meagher had a very comfortable lead over Ciara Kealy. However, this did not turn out to be the case and following the elimination of RON following the first count, Kealy was duly elected in what was a major contradiction of the polls. In the end, the Officer-elect received 2,101 of all votes cast, with Meagher finishing on 2,083, meaning that just a 28 votes separated the two candidates.
Earlier in the day Eimer Ní Churtain was elected as Irish Officer. Jessica Dalton to the position of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science Officer. Stephen O’Riordan was deemed elected as SEFS Representative on the first count. Brídelle Cronin was named Medicine and Health Representative, while last year’s SU Presidency runner-up, Eoin Collopy, was elected as the school of Business and Law Officer. The highly-anticipated contest for Equality Officer proved to be quite a close race between Kelly Coyle and Beth O’Reilly. Coyle, the outgoing Deputy President and Campaigns Officer, secured 2314 of the 4582 votes that were up for grabs. This saw Coyle take just over 50% of the votes on the first count and was duly elected as a result.