The UCD branch of Young Fine Gael (UCDYFG) will not be taking part in the Union of Students in Ireland’s “Stop Fees” protest later on today.
UCD YFG supported last year’s USI “Education not Emigration” protest however the chair of UCDFG said the youth wing had decided against supporting this year’s campaign as “the economic situation in Ireland is completely different to what it was the time of the march last year.”
“On November 3rd  we didn’t know about the IMF or the ECB and the whole bailout and everything, check it was around the 21st [November 2010]. So it is a completely different scenario.
Kieran Cawley, pharm chair of UCDYFG said that the government have a strong mandate to implement cuts and students must accept that they cannot be immune from this.
“I think we should ask ourselves why should students be immune from cuts?”
“Everyone across the board, illness unfortunately, in this country are going to have to take cuts.”
“There is nothing the government can do to change the situation we have to go by the rules of the Troika which they are implementing on us”, he added.
Pat de Brún, the President of the UCD Students’ Union has criticized UCDYFG for their decision. In a statement to the College Tribune he said, “I’m very disappointed to hear that Young Fine Gael will not be supporting the national campaign to Stop Fees & Save the Grant. It’s very disappointing to see any group prioritising party politics over their own peers access to education and future prospects, to be honest. Their participation in last year’s protest now appears somewhat hollow. Taking part in a protest like this should never be about political point scoring, but rather it should be about protecting your classmates, peers and siblings in their pursuit of a decent education.”
However Cawley denied that the UCDYFG are not supporting USI’s campaign because Fine Gael are in government. “It has absolutely nothing to do with Fine Gael being in government and I can promise you that.”
“YFG has not been afraid to step up to Fine Gael throughout history but this time is different, it’s not about stepping up for the sake of it. As I said before cuts have to be made and people know this,” he said.
On Sunday the College Tribune revealed that Labour Youth are supportive of USI’s campaign.
De Brún said he welcomed Labour Youth’s support, “I would like to commend Labour Youth for their support of the campaign, and their loyalty to the principle of free education, which is highly commendable.”
Reacting to Labour Youth’s decision, Cawley said he believed “Labour Youth are going towards a populism sort of thing that they know that obviously a lot of their support are going to be students and this is what students want to hear.”
Up to 25,000 students are expected to take part in today’s demonstration which will begin at Parnell Square at 1.30pm and will conclude with a rally on Merrion Square outside government buildings. A sleep out is also planned for outside the Dáil tonight, with up to 1,000 students expected to take part.
Free Education for Everyone, who were involved in the breakaway protest at Merrion Row last year are expected to march together as a bloc. 100 students are expected to represent FEE.
Karl Gill, UCD FEE campaigner said that the group plan to stick to the main protest route however added “there is a few ideas floating around.”
A well placed Labour Youth source told the College Tribune that members of the Socialist Workers Party are expected to attempt to prevent Labour Youth members from taking part in the protest. However the head of Labour Youth said he was unaware of such a plan.
The Socialist Workers Party were unavailable for comment.
Remember you can follow coverage of the march throughout the day live on collegetribune.ie. Join the conversation on Twitter, @CollegeTribune, #stopfees.