Students to discuss fees with Minister


STUDENT UNION leaders are to meet Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe to outline their opposition to the reintroduction of third-level fees.

Trinity College Dublin students' union president Cathal Reilly said yesterday he would meet the Minister and he hoped his counterparts from UCD and DCU would also be present.

Mr Reilly spoke to the Minister as he arrived at Trinity College yesterday, amid loud protests from students, to announce a new PhD research programme in arts and humanities. About 100 students carried placards and shouted slogans against the reintroduction of third-level fees.

A number of students also wore white masking tape over their mouths to signify that they had not been consulted by the Minister about the possible fee reintroduction. Among the slogans on the placards were: "Fees: Why don't we have a say?" and "Abolish all barriers to education", while the crowd chanted: "Batt O'Keeffe, hear us clear. Keep your fees out of here." As the ministerial car drew up outside the college dining hall in the main square, the chants grew louder while a number of students hissed and shouted: "Shame on you."

Mr O'Keeffe was greeted by the provost, Dr John Hegarty, as well as Mr Reilly and spoke with them before entering the atrium for the launch of the new programme.

Asked what he had said to the Minister, Mr Reilly said he had introduced himself and asked whether he could sit down with the Minister at some stage to discuss the plans to reintroduce fees. "He said he'd be more than happy to and told me to get in touch with his secretary or his personal assistant. I definitely am going to."

Dr Hegarty said the reintroduction of fees would "solve the Government's funding problem, but not ours".