Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, the Donegal Deputy writes of his time in UCD studying a BA, serving as Education Officer and his involvement with the ‘infamous’ Kevin Barry Cumann.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Charlie McConalogue
There was a time when politics was associated with only the middle-aged and the middle-class. The presence of youth in politics was not familiar and dare I say not welcome, with the exceptions of course. However a country with excellent universities, like UCD, and an extremely talented cohort of graduates, it is no surprise that this has ‘thankfully’ changed.
Whilst you’re initial reaction might be still to distance yourself from anything remotely political, I think you will find your influence has already been felt. In the past few years, we have seen a huge rise in the involvement of students in politics. We have witnessed you unite to raise your voice against social injustices by supporting movements close to your hearts such as the ‘Yes Equality’ campaign. It cannot be denied you have made huge impacts on policies and social movements, even if it was just sharing a post on Facebook, liking a page, wearing a badge or turning up for a march.
It all played it’s part. So for the old cliché- To our ‘future leaders’ where is your natural alignment when it comes to joining clubs and societies.
Politics affects us all
The truth is, if a finance, water charges or housing bill is passed in the Dáil- it affects you either directly or indirectly. All this boring legislation, which you may feel so removed from, is creating the environment that you will be entering in the coming years: that you will be looking to get a job in, buy a house in and bring children up in.
Ok I won’t be begrudge you the comfort of being at university where you can ignore the title of ‘adult’ that little bit longer. But whilst you may be having a great time-you are missing out on opportunities and possibilities by not considering what student politics has to offer.
Think about it, politics is not just legislation – it is not just County Councils and stuffy suits. If you join a hockey team and you sit down at your first practice and appoint a captain- you have engaged in politics. Politics is in everything we do!
Student politics can be multifaceted and you will witness this at Fresher’s week with the presence of all manner of parties, alliances and political interests groups. It is true we are all searching for new blood to join the ranks but regardless of our need for new young members, we are there to ensure politics is represented and to facilitate discourse and thought at the optimal time.
Trust me-associating with people who share a belief can be a satisfying experience. But it is more about creating friends and contacts as well as maybe gaining a viewpoint on something you did not have before. Your question may not be who gets your vote, but how do you make a change!
Kevin Barry Cumann
When I was a member of the Kevin Barry Cumann I remember it was driven by open debate and discussion and of course ‘many many’ social evenings. And funnily enough our debates and discussions got better the longer the night went on. I really think a society such as the Kevin Barry Cumann can appeal to practically every discipline within campus as it is not only a space for people to discuss their political views (as most of us didn’t have one) but it gives you the opportunity to get involved in something that reaches further than UCD.
It is not like you are sitting at a Parliamentary Party meeting under pressure to be on top of your brief– there is no stress, you learn at your own pace and you engage as much as you want to engage.
You may think of the multi stereotypes that are associated with students who join political parties or the Students Union. Stereotypes such as CV designers or people with grand delusions of Taoiseach. -Don’t worry these stereotypes follow you through to your political career after university so you might as well just embrace them now. But within the society itself, or as an elected representative of your Students Union a very different voice can be heard which most definitely dispels these labels. Getting elected as Education Officer at UCD was by far the happiest memory of my time in college and has given me my passion for my current political career.
Don’t get me wrong I was always interested in public affairs growing up –but there is nothing quite like putting yourself before your peers and asking for them to put their faith in you.
My advice to you is don’t close yourself off from the possibility of getting involved, instead consider it and consider what you want out of your experience in college- that will help you pick your right club and society.