DCU Ógra Fianna Fail are the biggest political society in DCU after more than doubling their membership this year.
DCU Ógra FF (Pádraig Pearse DCU Cumann) recruited 53 members during the two sign up days, up 55% on last year. “For a party that was supposed to be ‘dead and buried’ after the 2011 General Election we did remarkably well. The comeback is definitely on”, DCU Ógra FF Chairperson, Fintan Phelan, told The College View.
DCU Young Fine Gael’s membership is down 30%, the biggest drop in membership for a political society this year, with 35 members. DCU YFG Chairperson, Ryan Hunt told us he was happy with their membership although he said “political societies need to get out of using membership totals as a means of measuring the effectiveness or engagement by a branch as opposed to the number of active members”.
Labour DCU is the second biggest political society on campus with 42 members. DCU Labour Chairperson, Sean Rooney was unable to provide The College View with the society’s membership figures for last year; however he said the society are up to the most members they’ve ever had this year.
DCU Sinn Féin is down two members from last year, with 25 students signing up during the Clubs and Socs days. DCU SF Chairperson, Dave Clogher told us they got a ‘fantastic reaction’ during the two days. “There was great interest in Sinn Féin’s policies and positions on a wide range of social issues.” He also told us they received a lot of interest in the republican literature they were handing out. “One of the most gratifying aspects of the Clubs and Socs days was engaging with people over this and spreading the republican message.”
DCU Socialist Students, a new political society this year, recruited 24 members. Its Chairperson, Derek McKenna told us they “now have the basis to build a strong ‘left-wing’ presence in DCU going into the future, something that has been sadly missing for some time now”.
All the political societies were asked by The College View if they felt the popularity, or unpopularity, of senior political parties influenced students when it came to joining a political society.
YFG’s Hunt told The College View “even though YFG is an autonomous organisation with its own voice…it certainly is an issue with how people perceive the work of Fine Gael”.
DCU Socialist Students’ McKenna said he thinks “there is a general mood of dissatisfaction with all of the main establishment parties” and said he hopes this dissatisfaction will encourage people to look for alternatives that the Socialist Party can provide.
DCU SF Chair, Clogher, was doubtful whether senior parties had much of an influence on students. “Political societies in colleges have a very large social
aspect to them trips, events etc. This is perhaps just as influential, if not more so, than the popularity of senior political parties.”
Ógra Fianna Fail’s Phelan does feel the senior party had an influence on students when they joined and put it down to the work of Fianna Fail Leader, Micheál Martin and the party’s performance in opposition.
However, DCU Labour Chair, Rooney chose to focus on their own work, rather than the senior party’s work in government. “I think the independent line on various issues our branch has pursued over the last six months has helped with recruitment along side our increased presence on campus and on social media.”
Aoife Mullen is our News Editor.