Shane Rice | Staff Writer
This evening saw the second annual “Toghchánaíocht” (Hustings) organised by An Cumann Gaelach and TCDSU. The event offers candidates in The Leadership Race a chance to speak about how they will offer support to the Irish language over the course of their term in office. Each candidate was given two minutes to speak, in Irish or in English, about their policies. Reachtaire of An Cumann Gaelach, Fionn Ó Deá, then posed a question to the candidates, each was then given time to answer before the floor was opened to questions from the audience. The main theme was the improvement of relations between An Cumann Gaelach and the SU.
Conor O’Meara was first to speak, doing so through the medium of Irish. He gave a rundown on what he would hope to achieve if elected. He explained his intentions of working with Daft.ie in setting up an accommodation database, which would simplify the process of accommodation hunting for Trinity students. He would also endeavour to establish a jobs list which would inform students of jobs available in college. With regards to the Irish Language O’Meara says it would be a policy of his to have a sabbatical attend meetings of An Cumann Gaelach’s committee on a monthly basis as well as having the SU email available in Irish every week. He would also hope to continue cooperation with An Cumann Gaelach in the organisation of Éigse na Tríonóide.
Gabriel Adewusi was next to speak, beginning in Irish he comically remarked “An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithris?” He then continued in English, saying that despite his own limited ability to converse in Irish, he is a firm believer in the “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam” adage. He believes that the Irish language is a big part of college life and that it should be fostered and encouraged. He would hope to do this by lobbying for more weight to be put on modules which include Irish as broad curriculum subjects. He also highlighted his desire to make the SU more open and accessible.
Lynn Ruane, with her daughter by her side, was next up to have her say. She spoke in English, explaining that although she never had the chance to learn Irish this has driven her to ensure that her children don’t miss out on the opportunity to do so and she has sent them to Gaelscoileanna in order to afford them this chance. Her daughter then spoke on her behalf in Irish. Lynn told of how she had been offered the chance, through the Trinity Access Programme, to learn Irish but hadn’t availed of it. She said that her main policies are “inclusion, equality and access” and that language is included under all those headings.
Nessan Harpur was last to speak, speaking solely in Irish. He emphasised his desire to encourage the use of Irish in college and to introduce international students to the language in the hope that they then take the language and culture with them when they return after their studies. He would also strive towards further cooperation between the SU and An Cumann Gaelach.
Fionn asked a question about the SU’s Irish Language policy, O’Meara said he would establish a working group on the issue of implementing one, Adewusi said that he would consult with the relevant parties while Harpur emphasised the importance of the promotion of Irish among international students and Ruane would like to see the review of previous policies regarding the language. This issue was however resolved as the candidates and Fionn were informed that the SU does in fact have a policy on the language in its reviewed constitution, which is still to be published.
Next to speak was the education candidate Molly Kenny, who runs unopposed. Kenny explained the three main areas she would focus on regarding the Irish language, those being; the introduction of Irish as a language option for European Studies, the translation of the SU’s weekly email and the expansion of the current broad curriculum Irish modules. She said that as Education Officer her interaction with the language would be limited as the education officer often deals in case work. She also commented that the resources of Oifig na Gaeilge and other organisations in the provision of Irish language classes are limited and she would hope to try and help change this.
Conor Clancy began the welfare discussion. Speaking in Irish, he said that his experience in the area of welfare would help him in the role. He said that he would like to improve the services currently available to students. He also supported the provision of more services through Irish in the college.
Liam Mulligan then spoke, through Irish, about his wish to increase the presence of the SU outside of House 6. He would hope to have An Cumann Gaelach more involved in welfare-run events such as SHIFT week and Mental Health Week and to have the timetable published in Irish.
Louise O’Toole put emphasis on the need for further cooperation between An Cumann Gaelach and TCDSU in promoting positive health. She also highlighted the need for more provision of SU services in Irish.
Muireann Montague emphasised her interest in the Irish language and her hope to have policies published in Irish on the TCDSU website. She would also hope to strengthen links between An Cumann Gaelach and the SU, using a ‘géilí’, a ‘gay céilí’, as an example.
Aoife O’Brien decided on using English in order to avoid “butchering” the language. She pledged her support for Éigse events and to having welfare campaigns in both Irish and English.
Fionn posed a question asking how the Welfare officer could assist people coming from Irish language backgrounds. Clancy believed that having online welfare resources available through Irish would be a way to do this. Liam Mulligan thought that closer work with An Cumann Gaelach would increase the visibility of the Welfare Officer. Louise O’Toole suggested that mentoring through Irish could help a person in this situation. Muireann Montague was of the opinion that more “little things”, such as more bi-lingual signage, would be an assistance to these people. Aoife O’Brien told of how she had previously encountered a person who was transitioning from learning completely through Irish to learning completely through English, she believes that a bigger Irish presence throughout Fesher’s Week would assist people from Irish language backgrounds.
A question about the Student Counselling Service and the lack of ability to make appointments online was then raised. Conor Clancy argued that this ensured greater attendance at appointments as he believes that a phone call offers more guarantee than an email. Liam Mulligan admitted his frustration with the system, saying that many students are often too nervous to call up to book an appointment. Aoife O’Brien argued that it can often be daunting to go in in person or to call for an appointment and that because the system has the potential to be abused doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried. Louise O’Toole suggested that a phone call as a follow-up to an email could be an option.
Communications and Marketing:
Jemma O’Leary began the Communications and Marketing section of the night. Through Irish she pledged her commitment to improving the SU website and to beginning a blog which could feature Irish language posts. She also highlighter her intention to produce a video with a round-up of council proceeding, saying that this could also be made available through Irish. She also believes that information about the services offered by Oifig na Gaeilge should be made available in the Fresher’s Packs.
Aifric Ni Chriodain began by admitting that she was never a big fan of the Irish language show “Aifric”, she continued by listing her experience in the areas of marketing and graphics with organisations such as GBK and Shoutout. She then said that she would like to have the SU facebook in Irish during weeks such as Éigse na Tríonóide.
When questioned about the translation of the SU’s weekly email to Irish, both candidates offered different opinions on how they believe this should be done. O’Leary said that she would work with the part-time officer for the Irish Language and others in the improvement of the service, saying that it could be a possibility to have the Irish language version at the end of the English language version. Aifric disagreed with this saying that the email would then be too long.
Editor of UT:
Next up was the uncontested candidate for the new position of independent editor of University Times, Edmund Heaphy. Heaphy pledged to have more Irish language content in the publication. He said that his new section ‘Radius’, which would feature society events, would be able to publicise events organised by An Cumann Gaelach. He also would like to publish one edition of the UT supplement completely through the Irish language.
When asked about the re-occurring problem of the responsibility for Irish language reportage falling on one person alone, Heaphy said that this was a common problem with UT and that he would like to explore the possibility of expanding teams to alleviate this problem. He was then asked if he would promise to create the position of Irish Language editor within the next year, Heaphy committed himself to doing so.
Katie Cogan began the ents conversation with the old proverb “Is fear Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste”, before explaining the origins of her accent and continuing in English. She emphasised her wish to increase diversity and that promoting interest in culture was a way to do so. She also believes that the Ents Officer should support and provide resources for An Cumann Gaelach.
David Gray, through Irish, highlighted the need for cooperation between the Ents Officer and An Cumann Gaelach. He says that in the position he could offer support the society for events such as their mystery tour, having supported them during Seachtain na hÉigse with their even Club na hÉigse.
Conor Parle spoke through Irish about his involvement with the Trinity Film Festival and how he would hope to introduce three new festivals if elected to the position, those being a comedy festival, a literature festival and a drama festival. He would also endeavour to organise an event each week with a different society.
Fionn Ó Deá asked why the candidates thought that the Ents officer had never approached An Cumann Gaelach in relation to event organisation. Katie Cogan said that An Cumann Gaelach was a society which “commands respect” and “represents meaning”. She would like to organise events which offer a “flashback to the Gaeltacht”. David Gray said that Ents has often been closed off in the past and he would hope to diversify Fresher’s Week and that there is scope to include An Cumann Gaelach in Fresher’s Week events. Conor Parle explained that he didn’t know why the society had never been approached but pledged to support it if elected. He says that An Cumann Gaelach has a big role in the life of the college and he would hope to improve the connection between Ents and the society.
All candidates agreed that events organised by An Cumann Gaelach need to be publicised and that Ents has the ability to do this through social media and the weekly SU email.