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Ireland: Largest student protest in a generation
OVER 30,000 students demonstrated in Dublin on 3 November, in what was reported to have been the largest student protest in a generation. It gave an indication of the fierce opposition the government can expect when attempting to implement its anticipated brutal 2011 austerity budget.
The demonstration, organised by the Union of Students of Ireland (USI), was called in opposition to the government's threat to double registration fees to €3,000 - against the backdrop of 100,000 graduates being unemployed.
About 30 students also occupied the lobby of the Department of Finance whilst up to 1,000 students protested outside, mostly engaged in a sit-down protest.
The Garda (police) riot squad brutally attacked the students with batons, inflicting a lot of injuries. They also used horses and dogs in what was a conscious attempt to intimidate students and to send out a message that the state will come down heavily on opposition demonstrations.
The Socialist Party in Ireland condemns the Garda brutality and believes there must be proper stewarding of future demonstrations to protect protesters.
The conservative leadership of USI has condemned the protesting students and raised no criticism of the Gardaí. But this is not surprising as the USI leadership on the day didn't even call for the scrapping of registration fees but instead called for a cap on fees; in other words just opposed an increase!
The USI has the capacity to unite students in a mass movement against fees, but the current USI leaders don't support building a radical movement against the government. Students all over the country must unite to build a campaign based in all colleges and schools that organises effective protests focused on defeating the government.
What was noticeable above all else on the demonstration was the genuine outrage of thousands of young people who are not going to let their education and their future be sacrificed to pay for the economic wreck of capitalism.
Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party Ireland
In The Socialist 11 November 2010:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party review