Massive Student Protests in Ireland (two articles)

25,000 Protest Against Fees Increase

 

By Sean Flynn, Education Editor
Irish Times, November 4, 2010

In the largest student protest for a generation, at least 25,000 voiced their opposition to increased student fees outside the Dáil yesterday.

As he surveyed the vast crowd on Merrion Street, the president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Gary Redmond declared: “The sleeping giant that is the student movement has been awoken.”

For too long, he said, students had been a sitting
target for the Government, but the movement had been
reinvigorated and they would no longer roll over.

Pointing their fingers accusingly towards Leinster
House, the students chanted “I am a Vote, I am a Vote”
for several minutes. It was a powerful moment during a
protest which seemed at times like a throwback to student resistance in the 1960s.

The scale of the protest, organised hurriedly after weekend reports of a threatened _3,000 student charge, appeared to take even the USI by surprise. It estimated that over 40,000 attended the event. Protesters wore yellow T-shirts bearing the slogan Education Not Emigration.

A feature of the protest was the large number of
students from the Letterkenny, Tralee, Limerick and
Galway/Mayo institutes of technology.

Virtually every third-level college in the State -
university and institute of technology – appeared to be
represented. In all, over 200 buses ferried students
from campuses all over the Republic. The protest took
over 90 minutes to make the short journey from Parnell
Square to Merrion Street.

In his address, Mr Redmond exhorted students to return
to their lecture halls and their college libraries with
a new determination to face down education cuts.

Despite the clashes which would later mar the event,
the main protest was notable for its good humour and
bonhomie.

Needing little cajoling from the main speakers, the
crowd delivered its own rendition of Oh Mary, Why Don’t
You Have Some Sense? – in this case the song was
directed at Minister for Education Mary Coughlan.

Behind the good humour, the placards also reflected
real concern about a grim future of unemployment or
emigration. One said “Pay My Fees or Pay My Dole”;
another read, “BA Hons not BA to London”.

In his address, Mr Redmond said the huge attendance
reflected the fear among students about further
increases in college fees.

“Thousands of students are already struggling to fund
their college education, and any increases in fees will
force many of these students to drop out of their
courses. It will also prevent thousands of potential
students from entering third-level education in the
future,” he said.

Students, Mr Redmond added, are “the key to Ireland’s
future prosperity”. We have, he said, sent a “clear
message that we will not stand idly by while being
targeted in the budget”.

The USI later blamed “left-wing” groups for the
”destructive and anti-social violence” which it said
would only divert attention from its campaign against
increased student fees. Mr Redmond said: “This anti-
social behaviour was completely separate from USI’s
protest.”

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/1104/1224282635055.html

——————————————————————

Police Attack Mass Student Protests

Morning Star (UK), 
November 4, 2010

Around 25,000 students took to the streets of Dublin on
Wednesday in protest at plans to increase college
registration fees.

And in the Dail today Taoiseach Brian Cowen refused to
be drawn on the possible doubling of fees in next
month’s budget.

While the protest by the Union of Students in Ireland
was generally peaceful, many were confronted by riot
police on foot and horseback afterwards.

Trouble flared up when police charged about 2,000
people gathered near the Department of Finance after
the main march on Leinster House.

Police claimed that students threw bricks, placards and
eggs at the Department.

About 20 stormed into the lobby before being wrestled
back out.

Hundreds more staged a sit-down protest in the road.

Police admitted that several protesters had been
injured and three had been arrested.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) distanced itself
from those who had occupied the building.

“USI is saddened by the actions of a small minority of
people who staged a sit-in protest at the Department of
Finance shortly after the USI protest march today.

“This anti-social behaviour was completely separate
from the USI demo,” it said in a statement.

Many protesters wore T-shirts calling for “Education,
not emigration,” referring to a recent surge of young
people leaving Ireland with its double-digit
unemployment for opportunities abroad, from Canada to
Australia.

The Communist Party of Ireland condemned “the use of
mounted police and the riot squad to attack the
militant but peaceful mobilisation of thousands of
students.”

A spokesperson added: “It is clear that this
government, the European Union and international
bankers will brook no protests or resistance against
the austerity measures that they are imposing upon the
Irish people.

“This violence from the state must be met with renewed
mobilisations of all working people whose living
standards are under attack in the state’s attempt to
save the ultra-rich from the consequences of their
actions.

“It is incumbent on the Irish Confederation of Trade
Unions to make sure their demonstration on November 27
matches the same determination and mobilisation that
Irish students have shown.”

http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/97261

 

 

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