Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Another Election Looms

By David Maxwell
Former Gown Editor

Thursday will bring another election to the Students' Union. After last weeks close run election for President, all candidates will be working hard to secure your vote. The election is for sabbatical posts as Vice President Clubs and Services, Vice President Education, Vice President Welfare.

Graham Barton, Kevin McGourty and Emma-Rose McGrady will be standing for VP Clubs and Services. Mr McGourty has held the post for two years and is expected to attract the Gaelic sports voting bloc. Graham Barton is currently in an non-sabbatical post and Emma-Rose McGrady is Secretary of Queen's Radio. The radio station is well on its way to becoming a political party within the Union after also fielding a candidate for President.

Chris Gaskin, Michael Forde and Rodney Gilmour are running for Vice President Education. Mr Gaskin is perhaps Queen's best know republican student.

Colin Caughey, Kat McCamley and Barry McColgan are running for Vice President Welfare.

In the last hours before the election take this opportunity to ask the candidates any questions you want answered. Give your predictions of the result and tell us who you think can best serve all the students at Queen's.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Preston wins by just 103 votes...

Ben Preston has been re-elected to the post of SU President with a majority of just 103 votes. His Deputy, Peter Quinn, was also re-elected by a majority of 248 votes.

While Mr Quinn increased his majority from last year, Mr Preston's majority took a dramatic blow. Paddy Maguire ran a close second to Mr Preston with 442 votes to 545. This will send a shot over the President's bows as it signals discontent within the student body.

Turnout was poor with only 1004 valid votes in the election for President and 972 valid votes in the contest for Deputy President . Included in both polls was 41 spolit votes and 57 votes to re-open nominations.

Do these results represent the feeling of the student body?

Is Mr Preston's position within the Union in trouble?

What will happen in this forthcoming Thursday poll for the positions of the 3 VP's? Will this result have any effect?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The future of policing...hits the wallet!

The BBC's Mark Devenport reports that the future for policing in Northern Ireland may involve an increase in rates and the introducton of a special police charge. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4749016.stm)

Is this the cost of effective community policing?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Preston and Quinn re-elected - for better or worse!

By Frank Talk

Ben Preston and Peter Quinn have been re-elected as President and Deputy President of the Students' Executive.

Mr Preston fought a close contest with rival Paddy Maguire, the so-called 'Queen's Radio' candidate.

Mr Preston is known to have the backing of the CU(Christian Union) , which has become a powerful voting block within the University, but both President and Deputy President claim to be a-political.

The re-elected President and Deputy President will oversee the final phases of the Unions redevelopment.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Election fever hits Union

By My two-cents

Yes...it's that time of year again, when nominations open then close and people are offered sweets for their ever valuable vote!

With the elections for President and Deputy President due this Thursday (23rd Febrauary) tensions are high, particularly as the outgoing President, Ben Preston and his deputy,Peter Quinn are standing once again at the hustings this time seeking re-election.

Ben's election victory last year, as Union President brought tears of suprise to many within the University and beyond. Ben whom was relatively unknown at the time decided for some strange reason to throw his hat into the ring and try his chances at this Student politics thing against the might of Paddy Hughes, who was seen, perhaps more so by his followers to have victory 'in the bag'. Ben polled over 800 first preference votes with the help of a large election team spread out all over campus dressed up in funny suits trying their very best to get people to vote.

This year Ben Preston walks the almighty election path once again, hoping to walk into victory. Standing against him is Paddy Maguire, who has been at Queen's for as long as some can remember. Paddy stood last year polling relatively well, but not well enough to claim victory. His best friend is 'apathy' something that has shadowed Union elections for sometime now with turnout usually below 10 percent or less. Mr. Maguire, playing the ticket of voter apathy, is aiming to wake up and bring those ever so quiet voters out of their beds to vote for him.

Whilst apathy is a problem it didn't stop Ben being elected this time last year attracting cross-party support and stearing people away from the politics of 'Unionists' and 'Nationalists'. But the truth is do many students care? I think not. It is probably true to say that many students at Queen's as else where across the United Kingdom and Ireland even stay at home when it comes to the all important General Election's be it to Westminster, the Dail or your local council.

The main issues of these forthcoming elections within Queen's will no doubt be focused on the re-structuring/commercial services debate and the all important issue of the price of drink in the Union.

Peter Quinn, who scraped in on preferences the last time hopes to come home free in this round sailing into victory, however the problem is, is that this is also the hope of Greg McLarnon. Peter may hope that the work he has put into 'the Craic' (or 'Cr*p as it has become known in the Crown...I mean 'GOWN') will pay off. Greg asks the student body 'What is a Union without unity?' which poses a good question that I hope Peter can answer. Greg's drive for asking this comes from the idea that Student's are not united behind and around their Union like people were in the 1960s, man.

Students should make a wise and constructive choice of candidate in which may be a difficult year for the union and students in general as next year and the next few years could see many changes happen before their very eyes as me thinks that University life is all about to change!

Come Thursday it's up to the people! You should make your vote count and register your preference. Details below or available at http://www.qubsu.org

* The elections for President and Deputy President happen on Thursday 21st February with polls openig at 10 am and closing at 5 pm (except the Union which closes at 6 pm). There are two candidates for President: Paddy Maguire and Ben Preston and two for Deputy: Greg McLarnon and Peter Quinn. All elections are by PR - 1, 2, 3.

The elections for VP Education, Welfare and Clubs & Services happen the following week - Thursday 3rd March. For more info go to http://www.qubsu.org

- Tell 'the Gown' of your experiences at the polls - thegown@hotmail.com -

Friday, February 17, 2006

Opinion: Sinn Fein Accept Money from Monarchy.

by Frank Talk

Last week MPs voted to restore Sinn Fein's parliamentary allowances, estimated to be worth about £500,000.

The allowances were withdrawn last year after the Northern Bank robbery, for which they have accepted no responsibility. While £500,000 is a mere drop in the ocean compared to £26 million, eyebrows have been raised at the governments’ willingness to hand over such a quantity of money to a party that operates an abstentionist policy.

Yet Sinn Fein willingness to accept such money raises questions about their declared intention to deal with 'Irish' politics within the 'Island of Ireland'. By accepting the money they are not only accepting the British governments position in Ireland, they are granting it some sort of legitimacy. Despite their protestations, Sinn Fein have accepted British structures, they work effectively within them, and they claim the financial benefits that come with being part of one of the worlds most economically powerful countries.

David Liddington, Conservative Spokesman on Northern Ireland has suggested changing the oath in order to allow Sinn Fein to take their seats; what he fails to realise is that the reason they don't take them is more to do with cosmetics than convictions. Sinn Fein tell their supporters to ignore 'British rule', yet they are widely accepted to offer expert advice on British welfare support.

Ironically, Sinn Fein would probably be more welcome in the Commons than at the Dail. Bertie Ahern is making Fianna Fail greener than green, demonstrated recently by him blowing the trumpet for the 1916 commemorations. The Irish Republic has embraced 'pluralism', it is a philiosphy naturally suited to an 'easy going' people. An end to partition is not what 'paddy Irishman' mulls over at breakfast; if he did, he would quickly loose his appetite, because he would have fewer euros in his wallet. Northern Ireland would bring a huge financial burden, which the Irish Republic could not easily absorb.

Britain still offers one of the most generous welfare systems in the world. Separation from this system would mean acceptance of a more meagre benefit package. Is this something Sinn Fein can sell to its supporters? Is the hope of Irish unification an ideological dream rather than a realistic end goal?