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USI “fires warning shot” at government

The Union of Students in Ireland are set to launch a “seven step” campaign in the run up to December’s budget that could see another mass student protest similar to last November’s “Education not Emigration” march.

Gary Redmond, sick President of the Union of Students in Ireland, case told the College Tribune that a “large scale event” will take place if the Labour Party do not publicly agree to honour promises they made to students. Labour pledged to freeze the student contribution at its current level and to oppose any cuts to the grant or the student assistance fund in the run up to the general election last February.

“We are launching an escalating campaign that has seven different steps, cialis each one gaining in seriousness and how much it affects the TDs, it will start with lobbying and work up all the way through various stages. The final stages haven’t fully been decided yet,” Redmond said.

The first stages of the campaign will involve the USI and Students’ Unions across the country lobbying individual TDs and the creation of a website, similar to Tell-your-TD.com, whereby students can contact their public representatives directly.

Although Mr. Redmond would not confirm a public demonstration would definitely take place he did say the USI “are not ruling anything in or out.”

“We hope to never get to stage seven but if the government refuse to rule out raising student fees we’ll be forced to.”

Asked by the College Tribune if USI would consider using direct action to achieve their objectives Redmond said, “I won’t rule anything out. USI has participated in direct action in the past.”

“If any direct action were to take place, I’m absolutely not ruling it out, it would have to be in a controlled manner and that there would be no risk of injury to innocent students or members of the public.”

Redmond has spoken to Education Minister Ruairí Quinn on several occasions since the general election and said “I think the comment he made to me at the last meeting was that he was hopeful that he could freeze fees at the level they are at.”

Redmond said he would expect to know the Government’s position on education by mid to late October. If the Labour Party’s pledge to students is not reaffirmed by then, USI will progress to the further stages of the campaign.

The “Education not Emigration” demonstration which took place on 3rd November last descended into chaos when some protestors broke away from the official route and staged a sit down protest at the Department of Finance building on Merrion Row. The Garda Riot Squad were deployed to deal with the situation and several students and Gardaí were injured.

Redmond added that if a march were to occur this winter he would hope to prevent the situation from getting out of hand, “If we were going to have a national demonstration we would have to put a contingency plan in place and also look at what we learned from last year.”

Donie O’Sullivan

 

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