Students march in Galway pre-budget protest


MORE THAN 1,000 students marched peacefully through Galway city yesterday in the first of a series of pre-budget regional protests.

The demonstration, supported by students from NUI Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, highlighted opposition to proposed registration fee increases and cuts to the maintenance grants. The rally began at the students’ campuses, with supporters converging at the Fishmarket at the Spanish Arch.

There they were addressed by NUI Galway students union president Peter Mannion, the institute’s students union president Colin Canny and Union of Students in Ireland president Gary Redmond.

“Since over 40,000 students took to the streets of Dublin a few weeks ago – the largest student protest in the history of the State – hundreds have registered to vote,” Mr Redmond said.

“We are not going to take this lying down – when the general election comes . . . we will mobilise, we will vote,” he said. Those TDs who were intent on “taking education away” would “pay at the ballot box”, Mr Redmond added, to cheers, drumming, whistles and chants of “no ifs, no buts, no education cuts, no cutbacks, no fees, no Fianna Fáil TDs”.

Mr Mannion said: “Government needs to understand increasing fees and cutting supports will end up costing the taxpayer far more in social welfare payments to students who drop out.

“Students want to help solve the country’s economic problems, and that can only be done by building a knowledge economy,” he said.

A grouping from the Free Education for Everyone Galway movement asked to speak at the rally, but said its request was turned down.