Union of Students in Ireland

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Union of Students in Ireland (USI)
Aontas na Mac Léinn in Éirinn
President Joe O'Connor
Founded 1959
Headquarters Dublin, Ireland
International affiliation European Students' Union
Website www.usi.ie

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) (Irish: Aontas na Mac Léinn in Éirinn) is the national representative body for third-level students' unions in Ireland. The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is the sole national representative body for students in Ireland. Founded in 1959, USI now represents more than 354,000 students in over forty colleges across the island of Ireland.[1] The goal of the USI is to work for rights of students and a fair and equal third level education system in Ireland.

The Union's sovereign body is its Annual Congress, and its executive authority is its National Council, comprising representatives from each member organisation. Members of the Officer Board of USI serve a one year term beginning on July 1. The current President is Joe O'Connor, who took up the role in July 2013.

Many past officers of USI have gone on to prominent positions within Irish society. Past USI presidents include Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, former Chief Justice John L. Murray (1966/67), and broadcaster Joe Duffy (1983–84).

In Northern Ireland, USI jointly operates NUS-USI with the National Union of Students of the United Kingdom, with students being members of both national unions.

USI is a member of European Students' Union, was formerly a member of EURODOC and has provided officer-holders in both organisations.

Structure[edit]

The Union of Students in Ireland is organised by bodies formed from both elected members to USI and members of the affiliated Student Unions.

Annual Congress[edit]

Annual Congress is USI's supreme decision making body which takes place over a 3-4 day period around Easter. All affiliated unions send a number of delegates based on the number of students registered in the college to which the union is affiliation to attend Congress. All student unions can submit motions and amendments for Congress.

Congress debates and votes on the various issues and motions submitted by member colleges. It also elects the Officer Board for the coming year.

National Council[edit]

National Council is USI's main executive body, consisting of one representative from each Member Organisation and USI's full-time and part-time officers. It is convened at least four times a year for the purpose of directing the overall work of the national union, amending the schedules to the constitution and determining interim policies responsive to events. In practice it is convened on a monthly to six-weekly basis.

President and Officer Board[edit]

Officer Board is a Standing Committee of National Council and is composed of the elected officers of the Union. The board provides day to day leadership to the Union, produces annual plans for, and co-ordinates the work of the Union.

Regional Conferences[edit]

Regional Conferences are held for the main purpose of electing the regional officer for the region. The regions are autonomous and discuss and debate policy for the region to co-ordinate and direct the work of the officer.

Operational Bodies[edit]

There are two main non-political operational bodies within USI: the Steering and Elections Committee and the Finance Committee.

Steering and Elections Committee[edit]

The Steering and Elections Committee manages elections and the debate-side of Congress. Members are elected from former members of USI. The Chair of National Council is usually drawn from this committee.

Finance Committee[edit]

The Finance Committee is elected to oversee the finances of the organisation and support the development of systems in the areas of commercial, financial and HR management.

Staff[edit]

USI employs staff to manage the day-to-day, communications and logistical functions of the Union. Staff are non-political and have no voice or vote in union affairs.


Notable past officers[edit]

Former logo of USI, replaced by the current logo in 2010.

Chief Justice John L. Murray was President in 1966/67 and broadcaster Joe Duffy held the post in 1983-84. Several prominent Irish politicians also started their careers as Presidents of USI including former Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte, current Labour Party Leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, and former Chairman of the Labour Party, Colm Keaveney TD. Political strategist Frank Flannery, Cambridge University and Yale Professor Denys Turner and barristers Karen Quinliven QC, Grainne McMorrow SC and Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC all served as President, while SDLP Leader Mark Durkan was Deputy President and Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White TD served on Officer Board. Broadcaster and journalist Howard Kinlay was the first President of the Students Union in TCD before becoming President of USI. The chain of student hostels owned by USI were called Kinlay House in his honour.[2] Chief Executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, was President of the Students Union in UCD and later Deputy President of USI.[3]

Other figures that have been involved in the student movement but did not progress to elected positions in USI include the ninth President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins (President of the Students' Union in National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), Supreme Court Justice Adrian Hardiman (President of the Students' Union in University College Dublin), Stormont Minister for the Environment Alex Attwood MLA (President of the Students' Union in Queens University Belfast), former Minister Seamus Brennan TD (Secretary of the Students' Union in UCG), Labour Senator Ivana Bacik (President of the Students' Union in TCD), Independent Senator Ronan Mullen (President of the Students Union in UCG), Socialist Party TD Clare Daly (President of the Students Union in Dublin City University[4]), Jim Allister MLA (unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency of QUBSU), Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue (Vice President of the Students' Union in UCD and unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency of USI) and Senator Averil Power (President of the Students' Union in TCD). While Averil Power was President, current Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton was very active in the Union,[5] although she never held elected office herself. Paul Murphy MEP was an activist in UCD Students' Union, and former TD Patrick Nulty was a member of the Students' Union Executive in UCD Students Union. His Labour colleugues Derek Nolan TD and Ciara Conway TD were both Students' Union activists in NUI Galway.

Former Fianna Fáil Senator James Carroll was Education Officer and later President of the Students' Union in UCD; and Mayor of Derry Martin Reilly was a sabbatical officer in Queens. Christopher Stalford, Lord High Sheriff of Belfast and youngest ever member of Belfast City Council was a prominent activist in Queens Students' Union and a student representative on the Senate of QUB, and Simon Hamilton, Stormont Finance Minister also represented students on the Senate of Queens. Political activist and victim of the miscarriage of justice after the Sallins Train Robbery, Osgur Breatnach, was a member of the Students' Representative Council of UCDSU.[6] Irish Ambassador to Malaysia Dan Mulhall was Deputy President of the Students Union in UCC.[disambiguation needed] Aviation Regulator Cathal Guiomard and Central Bank of Ireland Commissioner Neil Whorisky were both Presidents of UCGSU.[7] Sailing personality and private equity millionaire Enda O'Coineen was sports officer on UCG's Union Executive.[8] David O'Sullivan, later Secretary General of the European Commission, was noted during his student days as a rare moderate voice in the Students' Union in Trinity College.[9]

The ranks of today's broadcasters and journalists contain many former student activists. Aileen O'Meara and Cathy Grieve were both President of the Students Union in UCG. Broadcaster Vincent Browne was an activist and edited USI's monthly news magazine "Nusight" for a period, and barrister, broadcaster and GAA personality Joe Brolly was a member of the Students Union Executive in TCD. Nick Ross was Deputy President at Queen's Students' Union, Ryan Tubridy was involved in UCD Students' Union, Morning Ireland presenter Aine Lawlor was President of the Students Union in TCD as was fellow RTÉ journalist and presenter Mark Little, while broadcaster and journalist Mary Raftery held Students' Union positions in a number of Colleges, culminating in a term as Education Officer in UCD Students' Union,[10] where she was the first full-time female officer in the Students' Union.[11] Eugene Murray, editor of Today Tonight and later head of TV Current Affairs with RTÉ was President of TCD SU in 1971[12]

Presidents of USI[edit]

Past Presidents
Years of office Name College
Incumbent Joe O'Connor Galway Mayo Institute of Technology Students' Union
2012-2013 John Logue University College Dublin Students' Union
2011–2012 Gary Redmond University College Dublin Students' Union
2010–2011 Gary Redmond University College Dublin Students' Union
2009–2010 Peter Mannion National University of Ireland, Galway
2008–2009 Shane Kelly Waterford Institute of Technology
2007–2008 Richard Morrisroe (until Oct 2007)

Hamidreza Khodabakhshi

University College Cork

Dublin Institute of Technology

2006–2007 Colm Hamrogue Institute of Technology, Sligo
2005–2006 Tony McDonnell National University of Ireland, Galway
2004–2005 Ben Archibald Queens University Belfast
2003–2004 Will Priestley Trinity College Dublin
2002–2003 Colm Jordan Dublin Institute of Technology
2001–2002 Richard Hammond University College Cork
2000–2001 Julian De Spáinn National University of Ireland, Galway
1999–2000 Philip Madden IT Carlow
1998–1999 Dermot Lohan Dublin City University
1997–1998 Colman Byrne Dublin Institute of Technology
1996–1997 Colman Byrne Dublin Institute of Technology
1995–1996 Colm Keaveney Letterkenny Institute of Technology
1994–1995 Helen O’Sullivan Dublin Institute of Technology
1993–1994 Tom Duke University College Dublin
1992–1993 Maxine Brady Rupert Stanley College, Belfast
1991–1992 Maxine Brady Rupert Stanley College, Belfast
1990–1991 Karen Quinlivan University College Dublin
1989–1990 Stephen Grogan University College Galway
1988–1989 Tadhg Daly Cork Institute of Technology
1987–1988 Trish Hegarty Queens University Belfast
1986–1987 Trish Hegarty Queens University Belfast
1985–1986 John Doyle Waterford Regional Technical College
1984–1985 Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha University College Dublin
1983–1984 Joe Duffy Trinity College Dublin
1982–1983 Brendan Doris DIT Bolton St
1981–1982 Brendan Doris DIT Bolton St
1980–1981 Gerry Grainger Queen's University Belfast
1979–1980 Tom Costello St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra
1978–1979 Peter Davies NUU Coleraine
1977–1978 Eamon Gilmore University College Galway
1976–1977 Eamon Gilmore University College Galway
1975–1976 David Kavanagh National College of Art and Design
1974–1975 Pat Brady Queens University Belfast
1973–1974 Pat Rabbitte University College Galway
1972–1973 Pat Rabbitte University College Galway
1971–1972 Frank Flannery University College Galway
1970–1971 Richard O'Toole University College Galway
1969–1970 Enter Details
1968–1969 Ciaran McKeown Queens University Belfast
1967–1968 Howard Kinlay Trinity College Dublin
1966–1967 John Murray University College Dublin
1965–1966 Gordon Colleary University College Dublin
1964–1965 Gordon Colleary University College Dublin
1963–1964 Denys Turner University College Dublin
1962–1963 Enter Details
1961–1962 Noel Igoe
1960–1961 Noel Igoe
1959–1960 John Hamilton-Russell

Deputy Presidents of USI[edit]

Past Deputy Presidents
Years of office Name College
2012–2013 Kate Acheson IT Carlow
2011–2012 Colm Murphy Waterford Institute of Technology
2010–2011 Cónán Ó Broin
John Logue
Trinity College Dublin
University College Dublin
2009–2010 Dan O'Neill University College Dublin
2008–2009 Dave Curran University College Dublin
2007–2008 Vacant
2006–2007 Vacant
2005–2006 Ruth Ní Eidhin (until Nov 2005) Trinity College Dublin
2004–2005 Rory Hearne Trinity College Dublin
2003–2004 Gareth Keogh National College of Ireland
2002–2003 Noel Hogan NUI, Maynooth
2001–2002 Ross O'Donoghue Mary Immaculate College, Limerick
2000–2001 Cian O'Callaghan
1999–2000 Julian De Spainn National University of Ireland, Galway
1998–1999 Ronan Emmett Dublin Institute of Technology
1997–1998 Helen Ryan Dublin Institute of Technology
1996–1997 Noeleen Hartigan University College Dublin
1995–1996 Bob Jordan Dublin Institute of Technology
1994–1995 Colm Keaveney Letterkenny RTC
1993–1994 Damian O'Broin Dublin Institute of Technology
1992–1993 Tom Duke University College Dublin
1991–1992 Tom Duke University College Dublin
1990–1991 Maxine Brady Rupert Stanley College, Belfast
1989–1990 Anne Marie Keary University College Dublin
1988–1989 Garbhan Downey University College Galway
1987–1988 Paul Cavanagh Queen's University Belfast
1986–1987 Sean O'hArgain Frobel College
1985–1986 Trish Hegarty Queens University Belfast
1984–1985 Paddy O'Donovan Sligo RTC
1983–1984 Mark Durkan Queens University Belfast
1982–1983 Mark Durkan Queens University Belfast
1981–1982 Liam Whitelaw NUU Coleraine
1980–1981 Liam Whitelaw NUU Coleraine
1979–1980 Christine Donaghy St Mary's College, Belfast
1978–1979 John Gallagher Saint Patrick's College Maynooth
1977–1978 Peter Davies NUU Coleraine
1976–1977 Peter McEvoy Queens University Belfast
1975–1976 Mairtin Ó Siadhail Carlow RTC
1974–1975 Brendan Glynn University College Galway
1973–1974 Kieran Mulvey University College Dublin
1972–1973 Pearse Reynolds University College Dublin
1971–1972 Paul Tansey Trinity College Dublin
1970–1971 Jim Hamilton Trinity College Dublin

Officer Board[edit]

Current Board (2012–2013)
Full Time
Post Holder
President Joe O'Connor
Campaigns Paddy Guiney
Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance Cat O'Driscoll
Welfare Denise McCarthy
Equality and Citizenship Laura Harmon
Border, Midlands and Western Area Kevin Donoghue
Southern Area Ciara Guinan
NUS-USI President Rebecca Hall
Part Time (Unpaid)
Post Holder
Irish Language Officer Feidhlim Seoighe

References[edit]

External links[edit]