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General Election 2016

Rock the Vote for Real Reform


We helped lead the way on social change last summer and can again this spring.

Student turnout for marriage equality on May 22nd broke all records and helped make Ireland a better, more tolerant place in the process. If we head to the polling stations in similar numbers for the general election on February 26th, we can make a huge change to several important social issues for young people in Ireland.

Below we outline key areas for government action and a list of political party manifestos so you can make your choice and rock the vote for real reform:

UCDSU Celebrating Marriage Equlaity Victory at Dublin Pride 2015.

Student Housing & Transport


Housing and transport are huge social issues in most Irish cities and for most Irish students.

Areas traditionally rented by the people going to this college - Ranelagh, Rathgar, Rathmines, Clonskeagh, Booterstown & Stillorgan - have seen the sharpest rises in the Irish rental market.

Demand is so high for a place in these areas that prices have increased by almost 30% during the term of this Government. Most UCD students can no longer get a viewing, let alone a lease.

Meanwhile rates for Res have climbed to private sector levels as university management was following a funding model for expansion which relied heavily on price hikes for students.

Last semester, we acted to change this situation with an intervention from Government. Following several meetings over semester one with Minister Alan Kelly and Tanáiste Joan Burton, it was agreed that UCD Res development should be funded by a government-backed investment fund - the Irish Strategic Investment Fund.

We’re currently negotiating a new funding model with university management and the Irish Strategic Investment Fund. We expect the ISIF to contribute €25 million to the expansion of campus accommodation and we’re pressing university management have to lower price increases forecast for next year by half - 14% - 7%.

The Higher Education Authority recommended exactly the same type of intervention across Ireland in a recent report on student accommodation. For this kind of social reform to happen on a larger scale, we need more pressure on uni management & more political backing.

 

UPDATE ON PRICE HIKES FOR UCD RESIDENCESFollowing our request, An Tánaiste Joan Burton has written (pictured) to UCD...

Posted by UCD Students' Union on Monday, October 12, 2015

College Fees


College education is  a social good which benefits a broad set of economic, social, public governance and public service goals. If we really hope to keep the recovery going, we need to bring state funding for this public service from its current level of 65% to its pre-2008 of 80% -- and beyond.

We don’t need to raise third level fees for this to happen. The majority of higher education systems in the EU are publicly funded with 79% of funding in EU21 countries coming from public sources.

This European principle of public investment in higher education means that tuition fees for undergrad programmes are low or non existent across the EU.

Right now, however, your political representatives in Ireland are considering an increase in college fees and the introduction of a student loan system to fund repayments.

We think this is a terrible idea for reform of third level education - introducing student loans as a funding model predicates participation within our whole third level education system on student debt.

Your Students’ Union have researched and published an alternative funding model for Irish third level education which ensures increased state spending and ringfenced resources through the introduction of a graduate tax.

We need your support and the support of students nationally to prevent the introduction of a student loan scheme by flagging it at this election. Ask your preferred candidate for their position or research their party manifesto at one of the links below!

 

THIRD LEVEL FEES & OUR FUNDING PROPOSALUCD Students’ Union fully supports free fees & publicly funded third level...

Posted by UCD Students' Union on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Youth Suicide Prevention


Ireland has the 3rd highest youth suicide rate in Europe but we depend largely on charities to provide critical services to those at risk of suicide.

UCD Students’ Union committed to raising €100,000 for one of these charities – Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland— because of the alarming levels of suicide iamongst Irish students. We’re providing funding so that YSPI can provide suicide prevention education to schools nationwide.

So far this year, we’ve gotten €46,393 in donations for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland and their prevention programme “The Four Steps to Help”. While the ways in which we raised this money may have also raised a few eyebrows, it’s important to note that YSPI depend on these kind of public fundraising campaigns to continue their work with Irish students.

They receive no state support despite being the only national charity to focus exclusively on tackling youth suicide & self-harm.

Why is this?

Earlier this year, the Government launched ‘Connecting for Life’, a new strategy to reduce suicide from 2015 – 2020. This document focuses on building up community based supports for young people.

However, funding targets set out in ‘A Vision For Change’ — a previous policy document & strategy for mental health reform from 2006— have still not been met by Government. This strategy document advocated a similar move from the old style model of institutional care to community based mental health services. However, its implementation was curtailed by public spending cuts and a lack of strong political backing.

Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland was founded in 2007 following the publication of ‘A Vision for Change’ as there were no national charities focusing specifically on the problems and issues of youth suicide and self-harm in Ireland.

Our response as a nation to what has been publicly termed as the “great epidemic of this generation” is still sadly lacking in coherence and is still completely dependent on YSPI and other non-governmental organisations.

Our fundraising campaign is a platform for students to contribute and actively do something about the issue of youth suicide, but the upcoming general election is a platform for us to ask serious questions about how the government will respond to this problem that has affected every one of us.

We’re calling on all UCD students to visit Mental Health Reform’s website and join the ?#?ourstateofmind? campaign. Mental Health Reform is a coalition of organizations with the single goal of making mental health an electoral priority in Ireland and transforming supports from institutional to community based.

We have made a difference – together we’ve raised over €40K for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland - YSPI, and with a strong student vote in this general election we have an opportunity to do even more.

 

GENERAL ELECTION 2016 – SUICIDE PREVENTION Ireland has the 3rd highest youth suicide rate in Europe but we depend...

Posted by UCD Students' Union on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sexual Consent & Sexual Violence


Irish social policy must change on sexual consent & sexual violence, particularly for students.

Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show a severe laxity in correctly monitoring levels of sexual violence experienced by the student population - Rape Crisis Network Ireland have accused UCD and other third level institutions across Ireland of ignoring the extent of sexual violence on their campuses.

Our university does not have a designated sexual violence or abuse counsellor on campus nor does our university have an official arrangement with existing sexual violence services for victims or a preventative action strategy for sexual violence.

This is the norm in Ireland.

Our country’s rape conviction rate is 7%; our rape crisis centres have seen austerity cuts of over 1 million euros from 2008-2014; gaps in our cyber-harassment laws mean that revenge porn is not covered by any specific legislation and must be treated on a case-by-case basis and our last comprehensive data survey on sexual violence dates from over a decade ago.

Furthermore, there is no clear definition of what is required for a legally valid consent. There is no statutory definition of the term or act of sexual consent in this country.

A good definition would identify the elements required for valid consent (capacity, freedom, choice) and emphasize that consent must be communicated, never assumed.

Rape Crisis Centres across Ireland, along with the Law Reform Commission and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Defence and Equality, have all called for the introduction of a legal, statutory definition of consent.

Despite this, a legal, statutory definition of sexual consent was omitted from the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 when it was published last September.

As we’ve pointed out in numerous press releases, the entire Irish law system needs to be reformed to better protect survivors of sexual violence. It is imperative that Government enact legislation which specifically addresses revenge porn and offers the country a full statutory, legal definition of the term and act of sexual consent.

As students, we must start asking serious questions about sexual consent and violence and we must address these questions to ourselves and to the people responsible for governing us.

 

GENERAL ELECTION 2016 – SEXUAL VIOLENCE & CONSENTRape is the second-most serious crime on our statutes after murder but...

Posted by UCD Students' Union on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Get to know the Parties

All the political parties have published a general election manifesto which sets out what they want to do if elected into Government. We've linked to each of these manifestos below to help you assess each party's commitment to social reform: