USI protests outside Gilmore’s office and Dept of Education

Over 500 students took to the streets last Monday in an attempt to persuade government officials to keep their promise and not increase third-level fees.

The protest took place in Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s constituency, with students from DIT, UCD, St Angela’s College in Sligo and Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology marching from Dún Laoghaire Institute to the Tánaiste’s office.

The protest was organised as part of the Union of Students in Ireland’s ‘Fed Up? Stand Up’ campaign.

USI President, John Logue rallied the crowd on arrival by claiming that the Tánaiste broke his promise to students when he came into government.

He said: “In February of last year, Eamon Gilmore would have said that education is a right and not a privilege, but the minute he got into office, he reneged on his promise.

“Labour can be a great party again. We have to believe that they can. The only way we can convince the Labour Party to stand up for what they believed in is by getting out on the street, not just once, but time and time again.”

Gilmore, who is a former president of USI, was not in his office at the time, but two members of his staff were given a large copy of the oath that both he and Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn had signed days before the 2011 General Election to not increase the registration fee if they got into government.

In a similar protest held last Thursday, a further 200 students arrived outside a meeting held by Minister Quinn in the Department of Education, protesting in support of the same campaign. Heads of third-level colleges were in attendance at the meeting as the minster outlined his plans for third-level funding in advance of December’s budget.

Last February, Mr Quinn hinted that third-level fees would continue to increase by €250 per year until they reach €3,000 in 2015.

Again, protestors held copies of the oath signed prior to their election to government, and students chanted: “Ruarí Quinn, keep your promise.”

A spokesperson for the USI said: “If he follows through on his intention to increase fees to €3000 he’ll not only have broken his pledge to you, he’ll have increased the cost of college more than any Minister for Education since fees were abolished. It’s time for students to stand up to his betrayal.”

Cian Murray

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