NUI Galway Students' Union

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NUI Galway Students' Union
Institution NUI Galway
Location Áras na Mac Léinn, NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland
Established 1911
President Declan Higgins
Vice presidents Phelim Kelly and Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin
Members over 16,000
Affiliations Union of Students in Ireland (USI)

The NUI Galway Students' Union / Comhaltas na Mac Léinn, OÉ, Gaillimh is the representative body of students in the National University of Ireland, Galway in Ireland.

The Union[edit]

NUI Galway Students' Union is an independent body which represents its members' interests in the University and elsewhere. Every student who registers at NUI Galway automatically becomes a member of the Students' Union on payment of the Student Levy – a total of over 16,000 members. Members are entitled to numerous benefits including representation by the Students' Union officers, membership of the Students' Union Club (College Bar) and access to a wide range of Students' Union commercial services. The Union also part funds Sin Newspaper and Flirt FM. The Union is separated into two entities - the Students' Union Representative side and the Students' Union Commercial Services Ltd.[1]

Functions and Objectives[edit]

As outlined in the Students' Union Constitution, the function of the Union is the "represent its members and promote, defend and vindicate the rights of its members at all levels of society".[2] Consequently, the Students' Union sits on various University committees, including the University Governing Authority,[3] which allows Officers to voice the views of the students to the University authorities. The Union also works with other local groups and companies to ensure students get the best treatment and deals possible. The Union's objectives include providing social, recreational and commercial services for our members through the College Bar, entertainment events, the SU Shop and other commercial services. In order to promote the unity of the organisation, the Union also assists on-campus student groups such as clubs and societies, while simultaneously promoting good relations between students and staff of NUI Galway. On a national level, the Union pursues fair and equal access to education for all sectors of the Irish people, and liaises closely with the Union of Students in Ireland[4] to work towards achieving this goal. Recent work of the Union has included the organising of a Grant Information Evening[5] in order to help students applying for the Local Authority Grant.

The Executive Committee[edit]

While the President, along with the staff, is mainly responsible for the day-to-day running of the Union, the Students' Union Executive is the committee that runs the Union on an ongoing basis. It consists of fifteen elected members, whose responsibilities cover the whole spectrum of student concerns from educational issues to accommodation to discrimination and much more. Of the fifteen members of the Executive, three are paid sabbatical (full-time) Officers, i.e. the President and two Vice-Presidents, while the other twelve Officers work on a part-time, unpaid basis. At each Executive meeting, the three sabbatical Officers present a report of work done since the last meeting. The Officers of the Union (for the Academic Year 2014/15) are as follows:[6]

Officer Name
President Declan Higgins
Vice President / Education Officer Phelim Kelly
Vice President / Welfare Officer Aoife Ní Shúilleabháin
Oifigeach na Gaeilge (Irish Language Officer) Gráinne Ní Bheoláin
Equality Officer Rebecca Melvin
Postgraduate Officer Cian Moran
Mature Students Officer Michelle Mitchell
SU Council Chairperson Karl Picard
Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies Convenor Sarah Kelly
Science Convenor Joanne Duffy
Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences Convenor Simon Neary
Engineering & Informatics Convenor Oisín Maloney
Business, Public Policy & Law Convenor Megan Reilly
Societies Chairperson Patrick O'Flaherty
Clubs Captain Damien Griffin

The Executive meets on a weekly basis during term and is also responsible for all detailed matters concerning the functioning of the Union. Importantly, the Executive Committee is answerable to the Class Representatives Council (CRC), and, therefore, to the members of the Union. All fifteen Officers must present a report of work done to the CRC on a monthly basis.

Students elect their Students' Union Officers. The term of office is from 1 July to 30 June of the following year. To be eligible to run for election, you must be a full member of the Students' Union, i.e. a registered student or current Executive Officer, and receive 20 nominations. Nomination forms are made available in mid-February and must state the post for which the candidate is being nominated and the candidate's name, student ID number and must be signed by the candidate and 20 (or more) nominators. Candidates may withdraw from the elections and have their name removed from the ballot paper by writing to the Elections Committee before 5pm on the appropriate day. Within 24 hours of this, the Elections Committee will publish a list of all validly nominated candidates who shall contest the election. The election of the Clubs' Captain and Societies' Chairperson takes place at a meeting of the recognised clubs and societies respectively. Candidates require three nominators who must be full members of the Union and Club Captains (where the position sought is Clubs' Captain) or Society Auditors (where the position is Societies' Chairperson.)[7]

Class Representatives Council[edit]

The Class Representatives Council (CRC) consists of approximately 300 members representing every class in the University. The CRC is essential to the running of the Union and beneficial to the running of the University. It also helps bring students ever more closely involved with the workings of the Union and the University. The CRC has proven invaluable to the Students' Union since its re-formation a few years ago, and is mainly used by the Union to inform students what is happening within the University and also to get feedback from students regarding any problems, suggestions or positive aspects they have found in the University. Members of the CRC also sit on their respective Staff-Student Liaison Committees within their academic departments, while others are elected as Faculty Convenors (one per faculty), and represent students' views at Faculty level. The CRC also elects the three undergraduate student representatives on the Academic Council, and appoints students to the Student Health Unit Advisory Group, Computer Services User Liaison Group and Library User Liaison Group. The Vice-President / Education Officer is responsible for co-ordinating the CRC and organising the election of students to represent their classes.

Recent events[edit]

NUI Galway Students' Union is to the fore of the No to Fees campaign in Ireland. The Union has organised and attended several protests[8] and also ran a campaign encouraging students to "Adopt a TD"[9]

During the RAG Week of 2009 the University issued a statement saying that it would no longer support the Students' Union run RAG week in its current format. The Union remained committed to running the charity week, with over €32,000 raised for charity in 2009.


In common with the other Queen's Colleges, Queens College Galway had a representative body for students. Although claims have been made that the Union grew out of the Lit & Deb, it is more accurate to say that the small student population meant that Student Representative Council (SRC) activities shared events and members with the Lit and Deb, which unlike the SRC had non-student members.

Notwithstanding the separate existence of the two bodies, The Literary and Debating Society played a vital role in defending the functional existence and independence of the Union. The public forum of the Lit and Deb allowed students to raise issues free of College interference.

An alternative view of the foundation of the Union is that the society served as the sole representative forum for students of the college until the establishment of a Students' Representative Council as an offshoot of the Society in 1911, under the direction of Bryan Cusack. This council was short-lived, but the re-establishment of the body was proposed by Conor O'Malley, auditor of the 1913-1914 session, in his inaugural address in November 1913. The council was firmly established by the mid-1920s, and in the 1960s was formally developed into the university's Students' Union, then known as Comhairle Teachta na Mac Léinn. The non-existence of Society records from that period makes this contention impossible to prove.

Restructured in 1964 in the Students' Union (although retaining the Irish "Comhairle Teacha na Mac Léinn until later years), the function of the Union as per the Constitution shall be "to represent its members and promote, defend and vindicate the rights of its members at all levels of society". Below are some highlights from the Unions past.[10]

  • 1964 • Led by Michael D. Higgins 600 students marched to protest about "poor relations generally between the University and the local community" as many hotels refused to take visiting students, landladies discriminated against students in summer etc.
  • 1969 • College Week (RAG Week) run for the first time after being banned by the Bishop in the 1950s.
  • 1980 • The Union supports the call for political status by the prisoners of H-Block and Armagh Jail. Several UCG students involved in the H-Block campaign claim they are being harassed by the Gardaí.
  • 1982 • During College Week Gerry Ryan DJ'd the disco at Leisureland and the Manger of Leisurelands car was set on fire by students.
  • 1987• The Union organises a boycott of tea and coffee served in the restaurant due to the increase in price of same (tea 33p and coffee 35p). The union serves approximately 2,000 cups of tea a day during boycott at 25p a cup.
  • 1997 • USI Pink Training, a campaigning and training event for LGBT students and activists is held at UCG.
  • 2008 • Fees campaign begins with thousands marching to Eyre Square[11]
  • 2013 • Members of the Union mandate it to advocate a pro-choice position in relation to abortion.
  • 2014 • The Union joins the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions policy against the State of Israel after a referendum of members tabled by the NUI Galway Palestine Solidarity Society. Members also vote to retain the Union's pro-choice position on abortion after an attempt to repeal the previous year's vote was tabled to students by the NUI Galway Life Society; in addition, a vote on the Union endorsing marriage equality in relation to LGBT couples passes by 95%.


Year President
2014-15 Declan Higgins
2013-14 Sean Kearns
2012-13 Paul Curley
2011-12 Emmet Connolly
2010-11 Peter Mannion
2009-10 Donna Cummins
2008-09 Muireann O'Dwyer
2007-08 James Hope
2006-07 Damien Corridan
2005-06 Paddy Reilly
2004-05 Paddy Reilly
2003-04 Tony McDonnell
2002-03 Leona Byrne
2001-02 Pádraig Ó Duinnín
2000-01 Paddy Jordan
1999–2000 Paddy Jordan
1998-99 Cormac McCarthy
1997-98 Darren McCallig
1996-97 Joanne Murphy
1995-96 Fergal O'Flaherty
1994-95 Fiona McCauley
1994-95 Sinead Molloy
1993-94 Eoghan Mac Cormaic
1992-93 Seán Solon
1991-92 Rónán Mullen
1990-91 Daithí MacCarthaigh
1989-90 Neil Whorisky
1988-89 Cathy Grieve
1987-88 Pat O'Flaherty
1986-87 Ger Killeen
1985-86 Brendan Wilkins
1984-85 Pat Boyde
1983-84 Peter Conry
1983 Seamus Henry
1982 Alan Sheerins
1981-82 Aileen O'Meara
1980-81 Brendan Smith
1979-80 Cathal Guiomard
1978-79 Grainne McMorrow
1977-78 Mike Jennings
1976-77 Mary Carroll
1975-76 John Curran
1974-75 Eamon Gilmore
1973-74 Brendan Glynn
1972-73 Seán Mac Aoghain
1971-72 Tony Diffley
1970-71 Pat Rabbitte
1969-70 Conor O'Neill
1968-69 Liam Morris
1967-68 Ralph Ó Gormáin
1966-67 Pádraic de Búrca
1965-66 M. A. Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh
1964-65 Michael D. Higgins
1962-64 Unknown
1961-62 Mícheál Ó Seighin
1960-61 Donal McNally

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Constitution of the Students' Union
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ NUI Galway Students' Union History - available from office.
  11. ^

External links[edit]