Students protest college fee increase

 

Over 1,000 students marched through Galway city today in protest over proposed registration fee increases and cuts to the maintenance grants.

The demonstration, supported by students from NUI Galway (NUIG) and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), was the first in a series of regional demonstrations planned by students' unions before next month's Government budget.

The rally began at NUIG and GMIT campuses respectively, with supporters converging at the Fishmarket at the Spanish Arch, where they heard speeches by NUIG students' union president Peter Mannion, GMIT students' union president Colin Canny and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) president Gary Redmond.

"Galway students have turned out in their thousands at the national demonstration in Dublin and again today in Galway," Mr Mannion said. "This government needs to understand that increasing fees and cutting supports will end up costing the taxpayer far more in social welfare payments to student who drop out."

"Students want to help solve the country's economic problems, and that can only be done by building a knowledge economy that will attract investment and create jobs," he said.

A grouping from the Free Education for Everyone Galway (FEEG) movement asked to speak at the rally, but says its request was turned down. It is critical of the Garda handling of the November 3rd student march in Dublin, attended by over 40,000, which resulted in a number of clashes after a sit-down protest at the Department of Finance and several arrests.

It is also critical of the USI's response in the aftermath of the Dublin demonstration.

The Galway demonstration passed off peacefully, although there was a significant presence of both uniformed and plain-clothes gardaí along the routes and at Spanish Arch.