Students’ union sees loss of €121k as relocated ball flops

The largest college student union in the country is nursing losses of €121,148 after its flagship annual ball flopped.

Last year, UCD Students’ Union staged the college union’s annual ball at the 3 Arena in Dublin City centre after gardaí raised safety objections to it being held at the UCD campus, due to the alcohol consumption of students at previous campus balls.

The numbers in the UCD SU total 30,000, but students turned their backs on the 2014 event, headlined by Clean Bandit, Katy B, Laidback Luke, and Le Galaxie.

New accounts lodged by the student union company show losses for the off-campus ball increased more than three-fold from €37,073 in 2013, when the ball was also staged at the 3 Arena, to €121,148 last year.

The union’s directors’ report concedes that “this loss will significantly curtail the level of expenditure that the union can incur in the delivery of the core union activities to its members”.

The figures show that the income from the ball last year reduced by 44% from €125,446 to €70,245.

In the aftermath of the flopped ball, the union employed Mazars to carry out a report into the substantial financial loss.

Arising from the losses and the union being unable to strike a deal with gardaí and college authorities on staging the ball on campus, the ball did not go ahead this year.

Overall business generated by UCD students’ union topped €1.1m last year and it recorded a surplus of €31,015 for the year, after costs were taken into account.

Numbers employed last year totalled 11, with employment costs increasing by almost €100,000, going from €249,257 to €348,385.

On the sharp rise in staff costs, a spokesman for the union said that prior to the 2013-14 period, “we brought in external consultants to provide direction to the union and the expense of their services would have been filed under general costs”.

“In 2013-14, we hired a general manager to fulfil this role and this accounts for the sudden increase in wages and salaries but it saved us money on consultancy,” the spokesman added.

“On review, however, it was felt that the creation of this position was not fully justified in view of the remuneration expected for it and the position was made redundant.”

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