Darragh Kane-O’Toole is a final year Economics and Sociology student running in this year’s UCDSU Election’s only contested race for the position of Education Officer. His campaign is opposed by Marta Ni Riada, a final year Law with Social Justice student. 

The College Tribune interviewed Daragh on the four main points of his manifesto, which are: Education Essentials, Careers Events, Teaching & Learning and Expenses. When asked why he is running to be UCDSU’s next Education Officer, Daragh said “I believe Unions and think they’re important to society and although our Union isn’t without flaws, it overall does benefit the students of UCD”. 

When questioned on what these flaws are exactly, Daragh answered that “on the bounce back from Covid, engagement has struggled, especially towards the end of the year.” He was then asked how he thinks this engagement can be rebuilt, “I think providing simple practical improvements to students’ lives, you can bring them back into recognising and feeling some sort of connection to the Union”. He went on to state that “I feel like students can appreciate when you represent them on national stages but when you can really identify with their domestic issues in UCD”. 

Photo Credit: Hugh Dooley

Amongst the different expenses of studying at UCD, Daragh criticised the cost of buying lunch on campus and the repeat and resit fees for exams. “The amount of money UCD makes from these repeat, resits and rechecks, it doesn’t add up to the stress it causes students”. When asked whether reducing these fees is actually feasible, Daragh answered that has been speaking to “various different people on various different committees” and has the idea that for multiple resits and repeats, UCD could take a set amount of money rather than asking for a complete waive of the fee. Daragh believes he is “more diplomatic”. 

Daragh spoke about the importance of “representing different student experiences in UCD” and how the committees he sits on “although aren’t perfect, give an opportunity for this representation”. Representation “is a gradual change but I do believe that these committees are where long term change in UCD comes from, despite bureaucratic structures being slow”.

When asked if he is in favour of joining the Union of Students Ireland, Daragh although didn’t give a straightforward answer, said he would be in favour of joining it and said there “should be a temporary reduction in the costs for joining USI”. 

Daragh his campaign has gone “reasonably well” in comparison to his opposing candidate’s campaign. He believes students should vote for him over his opposing candidate because he has worked closely with the structures of UCD in his various roles in societies and students’ union things”. Some things he believes he can do better is he is better organised because he “runs a society and played a big part in neurodiversity week”. He said, “although the LnH is a big part of UCD, I’ve done a role much more serious than Martha – I’ve been part of the Societies Council and the SU Council”. He said his experience of being inside the union as well as outside of it is an advantage over his opposing candidate.

Mahnoor Choudhry – Co-Editor