University College Cork Students’ Union (UCCSU) President Alan Hayes has claimed he was impersonated by a man who rang Cork’s 96fm Opinion Line radio show on Friday, February 15th.
Clarifying the situation in a tweet, Hayes stated that the caller “passed inaccurate remarks about the UCC Student Union and made people question if we really cared about our students and local residents”. He ended the tweet with #FakePresident.
The caller, whose voice is clearly distinguishable from Hayes’s, responded to a story sent in by a previous caller, in which a woman in her 80s had her hat taken off her head and thrown into the air by a group of male students as she was walking to a Centra outside the college.
Describing the event as a bit of “harmless fun”, Hayes’s impersonator said: “To be fair, there’s nobody saying these guys are students or that they’re actually going to college in Cork. These days we get a lot of students travelling in from Limerick and around the country but everyone gets tarnished by the one brush.”
Appearing to defend this anti-social behaviour, he continued to say that residents of the area should “know it’s par for the course this time of year. College is the time when we get out our boisterous behaviour and get ready for the working world”.
Responding to show’s host PJ Coogan’s question of whether more should be done by the UCCSU to warn students to behave during RAG week, the impersonator said: “If we look at any casual Saturday all this stuff goes unreported, but just because we’re students we’re painted as mischievous and airing on the side of criminal behaviour.” He also questioned: “Where are all the comments about the non-students events?”
When confronted by the host with the fact that the number of calls concerning anti-social behaviour increases considerably during RAG week, the caller again defended the students’ “boisterous behaviour” by saying that “students are a soft target” and drew parallels between UCC’s RAG week and the impact on the local community of Kinsale, a lively coastal tourist destination, during its Kinsale seven’s rugby tournament, or the area around Cork’s marquee during their summer concerts.
The impersonator’s comments on the show sparked much anger from its listeners, with many texting into the show to voice their concerns. One listener texted in following the so-called “Alan’s” appearance saying: “Is this guy for real? How can this guy be president of any organisation and not admit that rolling on bonnets and taking hats off old elderly people is wrong, deflecting from his own inability to control the people he represents and by saying ‘sure this happens in town all the time’.”
In response to the imposter’s appearance on the show, Alan Hayes himself spoke on air to dismiss the man’s statements and clarify UCCSU’s stance on RAG week. In a statement to the University Express, UCC’s student newspaper, Hayes noted: “I was glad to get back on air five minutes later to clarify things, but I’m still worried about the people who didn’t get a chance to hear me respond”.