ITSSU call on local Government TD’s to honour pre-election promises
Political Parties Must Honour Pre-election Promises on Third Level Fees & Student Supports
IT Sligo Students’ Union (ITSSU), St Angelas Students’ Union, together with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) this week placed a full page advertisement in a number of national newspapers branding Government TDs as ‘Liars’. The advertisements, aimed at ensuring the Government honours its pre-election promises on 3rd level fees, lists the name along with the political party, email address and phone number of every Government TD.
On February 21st, during the final week of campaigning in Election 2011 then Labour Party Spokesperson on Education and current Education Minister Ruairí Quinn publically signed a USI pledge on behalf of the Labour Party stating
“I, Ruairi Quinn, Education Spokesperson for the Labour Party hereby pledge that if elected, we will oppose and campaign against any new form of third level fees including student loans, graduate taxes and any further increase in the Student Contribution.
Furthermore, we pledge to use our position in Dáil Éireann to protect the Higher Education Maintenance Grant from any and all cuts. This Grant is often the only source of funding students have to support their studies.
If the State and the Government are to truly cherish all the children of the country equally, then this Grant must be supported and we will not support any Government that fails in this regard.”
The following day (February 22nd) party leader and current Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD also signed the pledge, publically re-affirming the Labour Party’s commitment on 3rd level fees.
Fine Gael also made a strong commitment on education in its election manifesto, stating that the party would not increase 3rd level fees further.
“We will not increase the student registration fee further. Instead, we will pursue greater pay and non-pay efficiencies in the third level system through greater flexibility in working arrangements, in line with the Croke Park Agreement.’ (Fine Gael Election Manifesto)”
Following sustained media speculation surrounding yet another increase in 3rd level fees, USI contacted every Government TD by post and telephone over the last two months asking them to stand by their pre-election promises. Despite vocal and sustained undertakings on third level education during election 2011 not a single TD was now willing to stand by their pre-election promises.
The national newspaper advertisement forms part of a major campaign being launched today by the USI. Amongst other elements, the campaign will also feature a large-scale student protest outside Government Buildings on November 16th to protect students and their families from becoming the victims of a political U-turn.
USI President, Gary Redmond said
“During election USI registered over 15,000 students to vote. Young people turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote in the recent general election. Many of these young people were influenced in their decision by the Labour Party’s commitment, championed by Ruairí Quinn and party leader Eamon Gilmore, not to increase third level fees in any form. Ireland is tragically losing the future drivers of our Smart Economy, with thousands of valuable graduates having already left Irish shores and many thousands more preparing to follow suit.
There are currently 3 choices for young Irish people – college, emigration or the dole. Any increase in college fees or additional cuts to student supports will ensure that a 3rd level education is not an option for thousands of young people across the country.
A recent survey conducted by the DIT Office of Campus life put the cost of a 4 year degree at €30,764 for a student living away from home. On top of this students must pay fees of €2,000 per annum in addition to local college levies for sports and student facilities resulting in the total cost of a year degree approaching €40,000.
The credibility of the Coalition Government and its political parties is under the spotlight on this issue and the USI will vigorously campaign to ensure that pre-election pledges are honoured. Education is central to the recovery of the Irish economy and it cannot be compromised.”
ITSSU President, James Dillon said
“Budget 2012 will be hugely significant in shaping the future of higher education in this country. Over the last 15 years, the Registration Fee, now Student Contribution Charge has increased almost on a yearly basis, while the maintenance grant has also reduced significantly in the past number of years.
We in ITSSU have witnessed many sad cases this year, students who have fallen victim to cuts in the higher education budget and have been forced to leave third level studies in IT Sligo; students who have had to shoulder huge financial, and personal pressures to remain in third level studies; and students who’s third level studies hang in the balance pending the outcome of budget 2012.
ITSSU are calling on the Government, in particular our two Fine Gael TD’s for Sligo/North Leitrim Deputy Mc Loughlin, and Minister Perry to honour pre-election promises and not inflict any more suffering on the students in IT Sligo and nationwide.”
St Angela’s College Students’ Union President, Helen O’Reilly added
“It is vital for the future of education in this country that the government honour the pledge that was signed prior to the general election.
A third level education can help to ensure that our young people can remain in this country and gain employment.
I am urging everyone; students, parents and the wider community; to fully support our campaign to ‘Stop Fees, Save the Grant.’ You can do this by asking your local TDs why they aren’t fulfilling their pre-election promises and by checking out www.tellyourtd.com”
Photo Caption: ITSSU President James Dillon, centre left, and Helen O’Reilly St Angelas Students’ Union President, centre right, pictured at IT Sligo.
For more information please contact:
James Dillon, ITSSU President
T: 086 7737456
Helen O’Reilly, St Angela’s Students’ Union President
T: 087 1263535
Gary Redmond, USI President