The Union of Students Ireland has defended its members in Galway over comments made by the city’s mayor branding drunken students an “embarrassment”.
Mayor Frank Fahy – as reported in last week’s Galway City Tribune – said drunken students were an embarrassment and a disgrace; and their alcohol-fuelled parties were causing nightmares for residents.
Mayor Fahy said a mayor of a sister city of Galway’s had remarked to him recently that “Galway has a serious issue with alcohol and you need to address it”. He made the comments at the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee (JPC) meeting.
But local student leaders are “disgusted” by the comments, which they say perpetuate a false stereotype. Feidhlim Seoighe, USI Vice President for the Border Midlands and Western area, has demanded the Mayor withdraw his comments and focus instead on the wider problem of alcohol abuse.
“There is, without a doubt, a problem within the Irish psyche surrounding alcohol, but this attack is typical: blame all of these problems on the students. In fact, it is quite the opposite, as the Mayor will find that most of the student population is hard working and studious,” said Mr Seoighe, who is from Renmore.
He pointed out that the city’s reputation is built on the late-night entertainment industry providing hundreds of jobs to the local economy. Many students are working in the hospitality sector here, he said.
“The student unions of NUIG and GMIT raise thousands of euro every year for local charities, and student societies from both colleges do incredible work,” he said.
Mr Seoighe said students from GMIT organised a project last week to highlight the plight of refugees from Syria by enclosing eight people in a shipping container for 24 hours.
He pointed out that NUIG Rover Society have collected over 1,100 sleeping bags for the homeless from general collections, and festivals such as Electric Picnic. The students of NUIG are organising the biggest technology conference in the country, outside of Dublin, on campus this week.
Mr Seoighe added: “I would call on the Mayor to withdraw his comments, and to look at the wider picture regarding alcohol abuse in Ireland, and not to always take the stereotypical view that student’s are the source of this issue.”