Protest at Department of Finance


Up to 40 third-level students staged a protest outside the Department of Finance in Dublin today at the planned reintroduction of college fees and the education cutbacks announced in the Budget.

Some 15 of the protesters from the Free Education for Everyone (FEE) group entered the building in Merrion Street and held a sit-in on the main stairwell for over two hours.

The students said budgetary cutbacks in the education sector were placing undue strain on young people and a new third-level fees regime would force many to emigrate.

A strong Garda presence was on hand to monitor the protest, and there were no arrests.

After a meeting between student representatives and a senior Department official, at which the students submitted a written of list concerns, the protest ended.

One of the protesters, UCD student Julian Brophy, said the protest took place "in order to highlight the shameful action on the part of the Government in its recent Budget, the implications of which will see unbearable strain placed on young people, students and college workers".

Donal Fallon, a NUI Maynooth student, said: "We oppose education cutbacks, the reintroduction of fees, in any form, and the attack on college workers. The actions of the Government will force many young people out of this country."

Jonathan Adams, also from NUI Maynooth, said: "We are here to argue for education not emigration. We feel the Budget was putting the squeeze on young people and students"

Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe is due to bring proposals on a new fees regime before the Cabinet shortly.

Mr O'Keeffe has indicated the fees would not come into force until September 2010 and would only apply to new entrants.

However, he has hinted the 40,000 students due to enter college for the first time this autumn may be liable for the fees in 2010.