Election drama at Limerick college over t-shirt in Icon and promo video

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Eection drama at Limerick college over t-shirt in Icon and promo video

Mary Immaculate College

THE election of a students’ union president at Mary Immaculate College has collapsed after the winning candidate was found to be in breach of campaigning rules.

The main complaints centred around winner Billy Hedigan wearing a self-promoting t-shirt at Icon Nightclub and sharing an endorsement video during the campaign.

This Tuesday, SU president Lee Dillon called an emergency general meeting at MIC to discuss findings of a probe into “a number of alleged infringements” of election rules by president-elect and vice-president Mr Hedigan.

After Mr Hedigan comfortably won the presidential election on March 20, 13 complaints were lodged against him “regarding his conduct during the election process”.

A formal investigation had to be launched after he stated “he was not in agreement with any of the complaints or accepted that he was in breach of any election rules”, the returning officer’s report said.

Of the 13 complaints, 11 were investigated as two of them were dismissed as unsupported, nondescript allegations of “cheating and rule-breaking”.

The rules Mr Hedigan allegedly broke were: canvassing must be confined to college grounds; all sponsorship/contributions are prohibited throughout the election; candidates cannot commence campaigning until after their briefing and SU executives are to maintain the autonomy of the union.

Mr Hedigan was accused of canvassing at Icon Nightclub where he was wearing his campaign t-shirt.

In response he said it was “a foolish error on my part but was not a blatant disregard on my part for the rules of the campaign”.

This complaint was upheld. There was “a lack of substantial evidence” to uphold claims of canvassing before candidate’s briefing.

A complaint was upheld in relation to the posting an endorsement video by comedy duo The Two Johnnies, who mentioned in the video that the vice-president booked them for RAG week.

The report states Mr Hedigan used his work email to source the video, saying, “It should definitely help boost my presidential campaign”.

The report stated that the video was a “serious breach” of election rules and that it “calls into question the autonomy and impartiality of the student union itself”.

The returning officer stated that Mr Hedigan opted to step down as president-elect and re-run for the election.

If Mr Hedigan runs in the election again, he will be excluded from scheduled debates and from campaigning on social media “as a means of sanction for his previous conduct”, it was agreed.