Alongside the UCC Students’ Union elections held across campus on the 6th and 7th of March students were asked to vote on two referendums. It was announced late on the 7th that the referendum regarding the reunification of Ireland had passed, while the other referendum, concerning an increase in the capitation fee to fund more sports facilities, had failed.
The first referendum concerned whether or not the Students’ Union should campaign for the reunification of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A spokesperson for the campaign said, “[t]hose who are canvassing here today are doing so because they see it as a necessity that their students union is recognizes issues and campaigns on them from an all-Ireland perspective. We feel that the only way students’ needs can truly be addressed is by firstly achieving the Ireland we want to live in: one based on equality and fairness. This can only be realized by the reunification of Ireland. We feel that it is high time that the SU … begin to lobby on behalf of students who signed this petition.”
3949 votes were cast in the unity referendum, had a total valid poll of 3883; 2450 voted in favour of the mandate, and 1433 voted against it. Similar referendums have passed in NUIG and UCD, though students in Trinity opted for their SU to take a neutral stance.
The second referendum concerned increasing the student capitation fee by €50 in order to fund more outdoor sport, physical activity and recreational facilities. The proposal would have seen more physical activity and recreational spaces created near main campus, with open spaces like Perrots Inch and the Mardyke Gardens being highlighted as having potential for student activities. As it stands, the sports grounds at Curraheen Sports Grounds (commonly known as ‘The Farm’) will have to move due to the building of the Cork Science and Innovation Park on the current site. The proposal would have ensured that the facilities provided at the New Farm would be superior to those currently on offer, in particular the development of all-weather astroturf pitches and additional flood lighting, so training could have continued during the winter months and into the evenings, as well as improved changing facilities.
Developments to the Mardyke Gardens under the proposal would have seen the construction of two new tennis courts owned by UCC, a multi-purpose playing surface, cricket practice areas, and a large ‘chill-out’ zone for use by students. To achieve these aims, the wording of the referendum also sought for the €40 of the capitation fee currently designated for the Mardyke Arena development project to be transferred to this particular project.
The referendum failed, with 3948 votes cast, a total valid poll of 3890, 1781 votes in favour and 2109 against.