The Socialist 4 November 2008 |
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Republic of Ireland: Student fightback
Following large regional demonstrations around the country, including 6,000 students on the streets of Cork, up to 15,000 Dublin students took to the streets on Wednesday 22 October.
Laura Fitzgerald, Socialist Party, Ireland South
Students were opposing the doubling of the registration fee to €1,500, and the continued threat of the re-introduction of full fees. Students carried signs such as "I need a bail-out, not the banks" and shouted angry slogans against the cutbacks in education.
The Socialist Party (sister organisation to the Socialist Party in England and Wales) and Socialist Youth gave out over 2,000 leaflets. We also distributed over 3,000 leaflets with others from a campaign we're involved in called FEE - free education for everyone.
FEE held a meeting after the demonstration which agreed to spread the campaign to all the Dublin colleges urgently. FEE pointed out the need for grassroots campaigns to pressure the student unions and the USI (Union of Students of Ireland) to take a more serious approach to fighting fees.
In UCD (the biggest third-level institution in the country) FEE organised a blockade of Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, on the Monday before the huge USI demonstration of all the Dublin colleges. This action not only forced the students union to support more radical action than they usually advocate, but also served to boost the attendance at the Wednesday demonstration by raising student awareness about the necessity to campaign against fees.
About 200 students blockaded a building that the minister was due to attend a meeting in, forcing him to make an embarrassing back-door entrance, literally scuttling in after emerging from a UCD services van with protesting students running after him.
Exactly one week after the huge student demonstration in Dublin, thousands took to the streets again in protest against the draconian education cuts contained in the budget that include making class sizes the biggest in Europe and cutting back on language support and support for special needs children and young people.
The 12,000 in attendance included hundreds of school students. Socialist Youth is now taking an initiative with school students who want to get active against education cuts, in an effort to link campaigns of school students, college students, teachers and other education workers against the efforts of the government to attack the right to education.