Live Blog: Council Annual Business Meeting

[liveblog]

5.17 – Join us at 6pm where TARA MCEVOY will be live blogging this evening's Annual Business Meeting of QUBSU Council.

6.02 – The Space is filling up with councillors, meeting is slightly delayed but should be starting soon.

6.09 – Deputy Speaker Bobby Kane takes the seat of Chair of the meeting this evening in the absence of Andrew Carruthers.

6.15 – Damien Corridan (Membership and Representation Services Coordinator / Deputy Clerk of Council) issues final call for councillors to collect voting cards, informs us that the meeting will begin in a matter of minutes.

6.18 – Bobby Kane begins meeting, asks councillors if they are happy with minutes of last meeting.

6.19 – Minutes of last meeting are approved.

6.19 – Damien Corridan states that Lorcan Gallagher and Anton Thompson McCormack are deemed to have resigned from council.

6.20 – Due to further resignations today the current number of councillors is 88.

6.20 – Sarah Wright (previously deemed to have resigned her seat at council due to missing three council meetings) appeals this decision, is voted back onto council.

6.21 – The current number of councillors now stands at 89.

6.22 – Damien Corridan informs council members that he will be sending out a survey to gain feedback on this academic year and improve council council.

6.23 – Bobby Kane reads Agenda item 3.1: based on the upcoming referendum due to take place on Thursday.

6.23 – Agenda item 3.2: Bobby Kane discusses a motion on potential sanctions against conference delegate Aisling Gallagher, deemed to have 'broken mandate' at this year's USI conference.

6.25 – Jason O'Neill speaks on the vote: “Aisling on two separate occasions voted in a way that the EMC deemed to be contrary to union policy. The theory is that you go to national conferences not as an individual but as a delegate. You are always entitled to abstain, especially on issues of conscience”.

“If delegates decide to vote whichever way they please, there's no point in having council”.

Mr. O'Neill says he doesn't want to go into the specifics of the motions, gives an overview of the motions and Ms. Gallagher's votes, both of which were deemed to be 'Pro-Choice'. Justifies his decision to remove Ms. Gallagher's delegate status. Reiterates that this is not a “personal crusade”, but claims “representatives aren't representing themselves but an institution”.

6.29 – Ms. Gallagher speaks: “I went to USI as part of the QUBSU delegation. The legitimacy of my mandate comes from my election to council. The mandate put forward was note voted on by council, but a decision taken behind closed doors. I hadn't planned to speak, but decided to speak supporting USI's pro-choice stance. Was approached by the Union President and told that I'd broken mandate, who told me if he'd known I was going to speak the way I did he wouldn't have allowed me to come to conference. In the second day I voted in favour of combating rogue pregnancy agencies. I believe that this isn't an issue on abortion, but on combating misinformation. Once my delegate status was removed, I wasn't given observer status. I believe I've been punished enough. I didn't get to represent the students I went to represent. If I were to be banned from two more years of conference, this would be akin to the punishment for the highest 'crime' at conference: physical assault etc. We can't allow for open interpretation on these things. It needs to be clear. At the moment it's not”.

6.33 – Mr. O'Neill speaks: “No matter who goes down, whatever views they have, the majority of council should take precedent. The consequences for a breach of mandate were sent to councillors. We gave Aisling a second chance. Other institutions would not have done this. We allowed Aisling to stay in the hotel. It wasn't something we wished to do, but I thought it was the proper and right thing to do. To ensure USI is representative, it's incumbent for representatives to represent their council. Although council has not put forward a specific mechanism for this, we will address this during the remainder of my term”.

6.36 – Ms. Gallagher speaks: “No-one here is really sure who has a mandate. We need to address this one way or the other, regardless of whether I like the outcome. Punishing me further is rules that aren't there, you're backtracking, it's unfair. The four days at USI were really horrible – a few of the delegation went out of their way to ask how I was, I really appreciated it, but it's hard to express what an intimidating environment it is. It makes you feel even worse when it's your first conference, and your president turns against you. The way I have been treated these past few weeks by Jason, I wouldn't wish that on anyone regardless of their views”.

6.38 – Councillors are invited to vote by ballot box on two motions – the first asking councillors whether Ms. Gallagher should be banned from all national conferences circa 2013/ 2014, the second in relation to conferences in 2014/ 2015.

6.47 – Mr. Corridan reconvenes meeting.

6.47 – Katy Fair speaks on Waterski and Wakeboard club, notes its success in a previous guise.

6.48 – Waterski and Wakeboard club is passed.

6.49 – Niall Bole speaks on proposed QUB Socratic club.

6.49 – Socratic club is passed.

6.50 – Share Uganda club proposed: “Was born in Queen's and we want to get it back”.

6.51 – Share Uganda club approved.

6.51 – Mr. Corridan speaks on proposals to amend constitution: “Hasn't been changed in five years”.

6.53 – Motion proposed to have format of council meetings amended. Proposer speaks on advantages.

6.54 – Niall Bole speaks against the motion, notes that Club and Society representatives should be asked to speak first so they can leave. Notes that “You shouldn't have run for council in the first place” if you aren't prepared to read the reports of officers.

6.56 – Union President Jason O'Neill speaks against the motion. Claims it's a good idea to have an executive summary for each of the executive reports, to have documentation uploaded online three days in advance of meetings. Disagrees it's necessary to re-order council meetings.

6.57 – Motion to vote is heard. Passes by 24 to 19.

6.59 – Motion fails.

7.01 – Niall Bole speaks on amendment to limit the remit of 'tickets' in annual QUBSU elections. Claims that “ticketing system is flawed as it discourages independent candidates”. Notes he doesn't wish to get rid of tickets altogether, but would like to do away with 7-people tickets to increase chance of gaining 'exceptional sabbaticals'.

7.02 – Connor Daly speaks against amendment: “This isn't big school. People can run with who they like. It's undemocratic to curtail that. Tickets have encouraged diversity in Queen's. If you're running with your mates and you're uncommitted to being representative, you'll fail. This is completely impractical and undemocratic”.

7.04 – Derek Crosby speaks for amendment: “We don't make legislation because it's easy. We make it because it's right and fair. The current practice of seven person tickets actively turns off candidates who would be excellent for the union. We see numbers of independents sliding. This is not a good way for the student body to choose their representatives. Voter turnout increase jumped when WiFi-enabled devices became popular. And then the rot set in. People don't feel that tickets represent them. They are being turned off. If we don't change this now, we won't have a democracy to speak of”.

7.07 – Eoin Deeney claims: “You should have enough conviction to run no matter who it's with. If you're discouraged by ticket system maybe that says more about the type of person you are”.

7.08 – Matthew O'Connor offers a Point of Information, claims he considered running this year but was discouraged by ticket system.

7.09 – Eoin Deeney: “If you have that much conviction it shouldn't boil down to picking sides”.

7.09 – Paul Fletcher speaks for amendment: “A member of council told me that they completely forgot about independent candidates because of the polarisation. You should stand on your own merit, represent your own values and determination”.

7.10: Jason O'Neill speaks against amendment: “I would ask people not to be too short sighted in terms of results. There's a lot of pros to being an independent. This is democracy. People will vote for who they think are best based on their own values. They don't vote on a ticket because they are corralled to do so. I think this is a way of forcing rules upon students. Every other system has freedom of association, apart from maybe North Korea, Sudan. Next year, we have events from the beginning of the year to meet people who you might like to stand with. Rather than being people against tickets, it's usually people in the know and those who aren't. We can combat that, but we shouldn't change tickets”.

7.13: Chelsea Worth speaks for amendment: “I didn't come here to talk, and I don't want this to come across as bitterness. But I can give my experience of running as an independent. I would never want to run again. People see how independents get ignored. They're an afterthought. It was an awful week for me. Potential independents will be put off. Smaller tickets would encourage more people to sign up. I really want to encourage you to vote for: you don't see these big tickets in any other university. Independents would offer more diversity”.

7.14: Alex Arrell speaks against amendment: “The people who wins is the person with the most votes. Not the person on a ticket. Some of the people who have put forward this amendment had a full 7-person ticket  as their cover photo on Facebook a matter of months ago”.

7.15 – Niall Bole offers a Point of Information: “This was only because of the invisibility of independents”.

7.16 – Gary Spedding offers Point of Information, claims it's reprehensible to attack character of proposers.

7.17 – Mr. Arrell asks councillors to vote against.

7.17 – Nicole McShane speaks on amendment, says she back candidates running as independents. Notes she ran on a ticket, but had to do so to increase her chances of winning. Running as an independent may affect your terms of success, she argues.

7.18 – Fiachra O'Maolcraibhe speaks on amendment: “There's an argument between a superficial ticket… it doesn't mean anything. It's boring. I'm in favour of less tickets, it makes things more interesting”.

7.19 – Aisling Gallagher speaks for amendment: “Unfortunately, the union isn't the most representative or welcoming place in terms of diversity. You only have to look at the arguments of the last council meeting on LGBT equality issues. If you cared enough, if you were passionate enough, you wouldn't need a campaign manager to run your campaign. But I am glad that our President and Campaigns officer are actually speaking about politics for maybe the first time”.

7.22 – A motion to vote is heard.

7.23 – Motion to vote fails.

7.24 – Eoin McGarrity speaks against amendment: “This is a very important issue, as evidenced by the fact that so many are here. To ban

four or more people coming together to run -“

7.24 – Derek Crosby offers Point of Information: “Motion doesn't ban them. Asks them to run separately”.

7.25 – Mr. McGarrity speaks on his own experience of Law Society ticket system, and against the amendment; says he as LawSoc President-Elect picked his team according to merit, not because they were his friends. “You want to ban four or more people coming together as a ticket. In a sense, that goes against the last two years when students have voted for tickets. It's ironic that some people are so violently against tickets when they supported them before the election”.

7.27 – Tyler McNally speaks for the amendment: “This year there were less candidates running. There was a lesser turnout. This is because elections were dominated by tickets. Tickets have more resources than independents – it's unfair. We're not supposed to be a microcosm of society, but a shining light for society. We need to have fair, proper elections. This amendment is part of the journey to get there”.

7.28 – Jason O'Neill asks what if four or more individuals from a political party run in the QUBSU elections.

7.29 – Mr. McNally reiterates the amendment's wording – that a maximum of four candidates should be able to run as a group: “Everyone who's speaking against this motion – you would do well to stop saving your own skins”.

7.30 – Chris Smyth speaks against the amendment: “This motion strikes me as bordering on the uninforcable. There's nothing to say that Backing Students 1 and Backing Students 2 can't run -“

7.31 – Derek Crosby: “Actually there is”. (Mr. Crosby produces wording of referendum).

7.32 – Mr Smyth reiterates that teams working together may not necessarily use the same name.

7.32 – A motion to vote is heard.

7.33 – Motion to vote fails. Back to speeches.

7.34 – Brian Mahon speaks on the amendment: “Running as a ticket may sometimes be beneficial. There's nothing to stop four, five, six 7-person tickets running”.

7.35 – Alex Redpath speaks against amendment, says that motion borders on infringement of Human Rights. Notes that not many have the money for full judicial review, but says “We would have a case”. Argues the motion leaves ambiguity on what constitutes a ticket. Proposes a motion to vote now he has spoken.

7.37 – Motion to vote is upheld.

7.37 – Niall Bole summarizes: “There is an obvious disparity between someone running on their own and someone running as a ticket [in terms of resources etc]. What I don't want is tickets able to drag through sub-par candidates when there are superb independent candidates. That is not the way to encourage the best possible sabbatical officers, people who are driven and committed. If you have a bigger pool of candidates, you can get better fish from it”.

7.39 – 27 for, 25 against, 2 abstaining. The amendment fails to meet quota, so fails.

7.41 – Paul Fletcher speaks on amendment to resources available to candidates for sabbatical office. Says that current system disadvantages some candidates. Argues that the current £60 should enable all candidates access to the same resources.

7.42 – Eoin Deeney speaks against the amendment. Invokes the most recent election, notes that resources were monitored by independent returning officer. Says he doesn't think this is an issue.

7.43 – Derek Crosby speaks for the amendment: “We all agree production of a market value chart is a good idea. Surely enshrining this in the constitution is also a good idea”.

7.44 – Jason O'Neill speaks against: “We want to make it as easy as possible for candidates to run. Putting this measure in place creates unnecessary bureaucracy. There's a difference between defrauding the system. The returning officer can use their common sense. Candidates have to use their skills. Some will get cheaper posters than others”.

7.45 – Caoimhe McNeill takes to the stand. Has been reading the wrong point. Resumes seat.

7.46 – Motion to vote is heard and passed.

7.46 – Mr. Fletcher waives right to summary.

7.47 – 19 for, 24 against. Amendment fails.

7.48 – Fergal McFerran proposes amendment: “This is not coming from me being a sore loser. No-one is throwing their toys out of the pram. A document will be drafted as to what actions are and are not permitted. Jason made a comment earlier that we must make things easier for candidates. This motion will do that. It reduces the grey area. It means staff resources are not being pumped into issues that could be resolved by a better constitution. It brings us into line with other Russell Group universities”.

7.50 – Alex Redpath claims he doesn't see how this can go forward when there is no provision in the constitution.

7.50 – Fergal McFerran replies that he has taken wording from the constitution.

7.51 – Eoin Deeney speaks for the amendment  “As candidates we were all hauled into election court in relation to ambiguity. I'd like to reiterate what Fergal says. The amendment codifies punishment. It should pass”.

7.52 – Motion to vote passes.

7.53 – 35 for, 7 against, 5 abstaining. Amendment passes.

7.55 – Rebecca Hall speaks for amendment to limit the effects of external endorsement on the QUBSU sabbatical elections: “Means for us to clarify our current election rules”.

7.56 – Several councillors exit the Space. Jason O'Neill calls for a quorum recount.

7.59 – Motion to vote is heard and carried. Ms. Hall waives right to summary.

8.00 – Amendment falls. Another quorum count is called as more councillors leave. One councillor calls for 'quorum recount' upon his exit.

8.02 – 43 councillors remain present. 2 short of quorum. Amendments have to be bypassed.

8.03 – Outgoing President Jason O'Neill offers summary of his time in office.

8.06 – Mr O'Neill's report is accepted.

8.06 – Niall McShane's Annual Clubs and Societies Report is taken as read.

8.07 – Equality and Diversity officer isn't present. Report is accepted is read in absentia.

8.07 – Report of Joanne O'Neill (VP Welfare) is taken as read.

8.08 – Nuala McAdams (VP Education) thanks School Representatives who have sat on council over the past two years. Notifies council of reasons for lateness of release of exam timetables.

8.11 – Gary Spedding asks whether Ms. McAdams would be willing to present a document of clarification for all students, on the SU  website.

8.12 – Ms. McAdams obliges.  Asks councillors to refer specific students to her.

8.12 – Ms. McAdams' report is accepted as read.

8.13 – Connor Daly's (VP Campaigns and Communications) report was submitted after the deadline. He offers an overview of the year: “I have relaunched the SU Mag. The next issue will be available this week. Voting on Student Council went up. We've rebranded the SU Foyer. We had Media Week. We're looking into a student-led mobile phone app competition”.

8.15 – Gary Spedding poses the question: “How much of your time has been spent on campus interacting with students?”

8.16 – Connor Daly: “I'd like to think that my victory in the recent elections proves that I have been out and about on campus”.

8.16 – Mr O'Neill asks Mr Daly to answer a question in relation to “His whereabouts 24 years ago”, wishes Mr Daly a Happy Birthday.

8.17 – Some councillors sing Happy Birthday.

8.18 – Gary Spedding: “On the topic of the QUBSU mobile app, could you elaborate how you expect students to create such an app when the average student doesn't have access to website administration? Are you just asking them for a design? Isn't this just getting students to do your job for you?”

8.19 – Connor Daly: “I'm here to set up projects which are sustainable and on budget. There are students here involved in computer science. I want to reach out to students who haven't been targeted. A lot of students I've chatted to have been really excited about this project”.

8.21 – VP Campaigns and Communications report is accepted.

8.21 – VP Community Aidan Hughes is not present. Report passes as long as it is submitted within five days of his return from annual leave.

8.22 – Results of what Mr Kane refers to as 'Aisling Gallagher motion”: 31 yes, 23 no to Ms. Gallagher being barred from conferences circa 2013/ 2014. 25 votes yes, 29 no to the same question circa 2014/ 2015. Ms. Gallagher will be barred from all national conferences in 2014/ 2015.

8.24 – Orry Robinson poses question to Mr Daly on why he has failed to pick a side on Thursday's referendum as Campaigns and Communications Officer.

8.24 – Mr Daly tells Mr Robinson he will address the concern later. Councillors ask him to answer during this meeting. He responds that he feels students have been made aware of the referendum.

8.26 – Motion to uphold all lapsed policies passes.

8.27 – Motion proposed to introduce pedestrian crossing.

8.28 – Derek Crosby speaks against motion as “infringing on the rights of cars”.

8.29 – Motion passes.

8.29 – Aisling Gallagher speaks on motion to oppose ATOS across campus: “ATOS probably couldn't be a worse company to have outsourced to. In the spirit of being a political union, we should take stances on things we think are wrong”.

8.30 – Motion to vote passes. Motion passes.

8.30 – Gary Spedding speaks for motion to increase accountability on the behalf of Student Council. Notes students should have access to concise, precise minutes.

8.32 – Jason O'Neill speaks against the motion: “I don't think we need to do a verbatim, on the record in terms of what every individual said. Councillors can vouch for one another. Damien's time could be otherwise spent than producing these minutes”.

8.34 – Orry Robinson speaks for the motion, argues that ambiguity of minutes leads to varying interpretations.

8.34 – Niall Bole speaks against the motion, claims that it is not feasible.

8.36 – Motion to vote is heard and passes.

8.36 – 12 votes for, 11 against. Motion passes.

8.39 – Damien Corridan introduces emergency motions. Bobby Kane reads motion proposed by Aisling Gallagher in support of University of London students, against the disbandment of their union.

8.40 – Ms. Gallagher speaks on motion, asks councillors to support fellow students: “ULU represents half as many more students as NUS-USI”.

8.42 – Ms Gallagher reiterates that councillors should stand in support of the principles of democracy.

8.43 – Gary Spedding speaks on importance of supporting fellow students.

8.44 – Ms. Gallagher says that it is 'within spirit of campus in the past week with the Save Student Jobs campaign' to vote in favour.

8.44 – Motion to vote heard and carried. Motion passes.

8.45 – Motion proposed by Derek Crosby – that results of Thursday's referendum shall be binding – is proposed.

8.46 – Mr. Crosby speaks on the difficulties facing those campaigning for a 'Yes' vote in Thursday's referendum.

8.46 – Jason O'Neill speaks against the referendum, notes that union management will “listen to students regardless”.

8.47 – Gary Spedding speaks for the motion, states that he hopes the referendum is not left open to interpretation.

8.48 – Motion to vote is heard and carried.

8.49 – Motion is passed: 16 for to 6 against, with 4 abstentions.

8.50 – Final emergency motion introduced by Niall Bole, proposes one drink per councillor on union bar tab to mark end of final meeting of 2012/2013 council.

8.51 – Motion to vote is carried. Motion passes.

8.53 – The last meeting of Student Council 2012/ 2013 draws to a close.

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