A mass demonstration organized by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is set to take place in Dublin next month, the College Tribune has learned.
The organization is launching a national “Freeze the Fees, Save the Grant” campaign in reaction to speculation that the registration fee may increase to €5,000 in December’s budget. The campaign will include a protest march in Dublin on Wednesday November 16th.
“November 16th should be a completely peaceful protest. USI and indeed students’ unions across the country will do whatever it take to ensure that education is protected in the budget” USI President Gary Redmond said.
Mr Redmond said that if fees rose to €5,000 “tens of thousands” of students would not be able to return to college next September.
“We may ultimately have some other form of large scale action on the 16th as well as the march,” he added, “USI isn’t ruling anything out.
UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Vice President Brendan Lacey echoed Redmond: “We are not ruling anything out and we know that we have to be more aggressive this year. There is a lot of anger out there and we have to capitalize on it, but in a safe and controlled manner.”
“We do think the campaign needs to be a lot more in their [the Government's] face this year,” he added.
The demonstration will begin after 3pm on November 16th in order to allow students coming from different parts of the country sufficient time to travel to the capital. Mr Redmond hopes that 5th and 6th year secondary school students will also attend.
The protest may clash with rush hour traffic and could run the risk of bringing the city centre to a standstill. “I think that would obviously be part of getting out message out there as well” Mr Redmond said.
The Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn has refused to rule out the possibility of an increase in the student contribution. Speaking to the College Tribune he said,”There isn’t a single item of expenditure across the country that isn’t going to be affected in some way or other’ in December’s budget.”
“The USI has to do what it feels it has to do” the Minister responded when questioned as regards how he would respond to any form of mass demonstration.