Out for Coffee with the USI’s New Guard


In the new offices of the Union of Students in Ireland in Portview House, Ringsend I was greeted by President John Logue as we embarked on a delightful conversation about education, sports, geeky literary material, and ambitions.

“It’s my life’s ambition to be the Governor of Mount Joy Prison,” says John as he leans forward. “John Lonergan (former Governor of Mount Joy Prison) has a perception of human beings who are fundamentally good,” he says.

In person Logue strikes me as humble, intelligent and bashfully shy. He wears a dark suit with a strong red tie; his hair has a strong quiff to the left, and his office looks and sounds like a college campus full of attractive staff. As we chat I can hear the mumbles of his minions from outside the door, busy at work dealing with student unions from diversified backgrounds, much like Logue.

“I come from a very fortunate background,” says Logue “I think people like me who always got an opportunity, sometimes even a second opportunity, have a serious responsibility to bring people up the ladder with them,” he says. I pressed him on helping people less well off. “In essence, if I hadn’t been given the extent of opportunities I wouldn’t have gone to college, I wouldn’t have been remotely capable of sitting a Leaving Certificate. If I can help people gain the same opportunities as I had, well that’s a life well led essentially,” he says as he brandishes again to the John Lonergan analogy.

Logue’s mind is heavily influenced by biographical material on such diverse figures such as Fidel Castro (who’s work ethic he describes as “stupid”), books on Lonergan, and material on JFK. At the outset of our meeting, he produced a copy of Robert Dallek’s John F. Kennedy: an unfinished life, which stands out as a nice addition to the pile of Kennedy literary material already floating about his office.

His secondary school years played a large role in shaping the man we see today. He went to a secondary school in Letterkenny, which he credits with developing his diversified attitude. “There was such a healthy mix of people in my school, we could hang out with anyone,” he says. From there Logue went on to study law at UCD, which he admits, was a daunting undertaking. It wasn’t so much the course, although he had his doubts, it was the University. “You feel out of touch with some of the people in UCD,” he says as he sits back in his chair.

UCD helped shape him, but it also delivered a lasting question, ‘what am I supposed to be?’

“There are very few people out there where it just hits them, some people have to get over the obstacles and stuff and then they realize this is it,” he says pivoting to his USI climb.
In his first run, as the education officer for UCD, he got trounced, “we ended up getting 41% of the vote,” he said. After that, he was approached to run as the regional officer for Leinster; he won, gaining the experience needed for the job he’s in now. Under Logue’s leadership, the USI reaffirmed its commitment to helping unemployed graduates and to pit themselves against the cuts by the Minister of Education Ruari Quinn.

“The thing that scares me about Ruari Quinn, is that he has now convinced himself it’s his legacy in politics to get rid of the EU/IMF,” says Logue. Just a few weeks ago in protest of cuts and higher education fees, Logue was arrested for turning his back on the Government in the Dail’s public gallery, and refusing to sit down (he was released a few hours later).

As we are about to wrap up, we get talking about sports. “I’m a rugby lad myself,” I say. “Are you somebody who likes to watch the sport and play it?” Logue says. Just like halftime in rugby, Logue has won the first half with the final score yet to be decided.

By Liam Cahill