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Blunders and lies

viagra serif;”>A number of Fianna Fáil TDs have spoken out against the Minister for Education and Skills Mr Ruairi Quinn’s handling of the crisis surrounding the new grants system, nurse SUSI.

Among those who have voiced their anger with the Minister are the Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Education, Charlie McConalogue, along with Deputy Brendan Smith, TD for Cavan and Monaghan.

Minister Quinn launched the new SUSI system amid great fanfare in June saying the process will be ‘quick and easy’ and it will stop students waiting for ‘lengthy periods of time and facing undue hardship as a result of delays’.  However the reality for students is far from what was promised,” said Deputy McConalogue.

He went on to state: “Minister Quinn was quick to accept praise when SUSI was launched.  But now that the grant application system is in crisis, he is nowhere to be seen.  These students need an explanation from the Minister and some assurance about what is being done to rectify the situation.”

Deputy Smith pointed out that in his own constituency, 8 out of every 10 students who applied for the grant are still awaiting confirmation. This amounts to more than 1,800 individuals. “It is clear that the new centralised grant application system (SUSI) is riddled with problems,” stated Smith.

As we head into the Christmas period there are 1,879 Cavan and Monaghan students, as well as tens of thousands across the country, who are still waiting for their grants to be processed by this ‘quick and easy’ system.  For many of them, the delays are preventing them from registering fully at college and accessing library and computer services.  Some have been asked to pay the €2,250 third level registration fee up front until their grants come through.  Others who are in receipt of the Back to Education allowance have been issued letters saying they will be cut off by November 6th unless they can show proof of college registration, which they are prevented from doing until they receive their grant.

These are students who because of their personal situation need state support to go to college.  It is disgraceful that it is now November and so many of them still have no idea when and if they will receive their grant,” said Smith.

Deputy Smith, who has been a TD since 1992, has previously railed on both Eamon Gilmore and Ruairi Quinn for failing to honour the pledge they signed with the USI before the last general election, where Labour pledged that they would not increase the student contribution charge if they got into government. The charge is now set to rise by €250 in the coming year, which Quinn says will generate a further €18 million for the exchequer.

Fine Gael’s election manifesto also promised no further increase in third level fees, stating: “We will not increase the student registration fee further. Instead, we will pursue greater pay and non-pay efficiencies in the third level system through greater flexibility in working arrangements, in line with the Croke Park Agreement.’’

By James Grannell

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