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Campaign for Free Education and USI Take Action.

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Tuesday May 20, 2003 10:28author by CFE - Campaign for Free Educationauthor email irishcfe at yahoo dot com Report this post to the editors

A number of Campaign for Free Education activists took part in an actions today with the Union of Students Ireland around Dublin. The CFE has been one of the most formidable opponents of fees and cutbacks in education since the summer. It has organized numerous on-campus demonstrations in UCD making it a place of hostility to visiting government figures. The CFE has blockaded the Minister for Education in college buildings for hours; organized a successful occupations of the N11 motorway, the Departments of Finance, Education and Transport; carried out a successful sit- down protest outside Dail Eireann. All this brought invaluable media and public attention to educational inequality and the danger of fees.


Educational inequality is not something that magically appears in third level but is evident throughout the education system. The points system illustrates this. Where students with unequal resources and crap school facilities are pitted against those who can afford private tuition and attend exam factories on Lesson Street. Students are forced into a rat race for a limited number of college places because the government are unwilling to adequately fund the colleges. The Campaign for Free Education is a network set up last summer by students in UCD to fight the reintroduction of fees by getting students involved in collective mass action against the government. It is now essential that students, both in secondary and third level form an network to mobilise opposition against this government. The years of complacency and negotiation within the student movement must end and action must begin.

A UCD Arts student who has been an activist with the campaign since last summer said

‘Students often see it as easier to solve problems in college by diverting their energies into seeking an individual solution to the barriers in front of them such as taking a part time job. But now there is a need to recognise the threat posed by the direction Irish education is being pushed in. The reintroduction of fees, under whatever guise it is presented will not only erode the living standards of students but presents a threat to the very right of access to higher education. That is why we call for a collective response and urge all students to take action like those we have been engaged in all year. Await for no one to do it on your behalf-do it yourself. We must shift focus away from responding to the government's agenda, and force them to respond to ours, an agenda where educational opportunity is not mitigated by your economical and social background.’

As the Irish government strives to move closer to the introduction of a fee based education system one of its primary tactics is the dressing up of its endeavours in the language of social inclusion. From the current level of debate, one is able only to assume that educational inequality is solely an issue in third level, and no such thing exists in second and primary education.

Class differences in access to higher education represents merely the end stage of a cumulative process which begins at pre-school level and is manifest through primary and secondary education. To secure a place in third level requires a transition through three separate transitions, and success or failure in these transitions ultimately rests on socio-economic background. These transitions include passing the junior cert, remaining in school until leaving cert and obtaining sufficient points to continue to third level, never mind the financial hindrance. For those seeking to combat educational disadvantage, it must be accepted that intervention through the education system is not enough to counteract deep rooted structural inequalities in Irish society at large. The failure of the Celtic Tiger to 'raise all boats' has only exacerbated

these problems. Now the burden of tackling educational inequality must not be left to education alone, or sought in education alone.

The common thread in relation to early school leavers is the economic circumstance of the family, and we stress the need for measures to combat financial deprivation in the family and community. Contrary to the false representation of the government, fees do not represent a simple panacea which will eliminate educational inequality. They believe this because they perceive inequality to only exist in access to third level and seek a solution in third level through the introduction of fees, which can only exacerbate the problem by erecting further financial barriers to those seeking to make the move to third level. Corrective intervention can not be confined to third level alone, nor to education as a whole alone.

Findings of comparative research in Sweden and the Netherlands, two countries which have had some success in the area show that a relatively reduction in educational inequality results from an equalisation of socio economic conditions in society as a whole. The student maintenance grant system needs to be completely overhauled if access to education for all is to be achieved. The CFE calls for the student maintenance grant to be increased to social welfare levels. We also call for the a radical increase in the income threshold to allow increased access to the grant. The CFE recognises the hardship caused by the fact that the grant rarely comes in on time. To combat this, we recommend the setting up of a central grants authority to administer the grant so as to ensure that all grants arrive at the start of each term. A single grants authority would mean that the system is transparent and beyond reproach.

The CFE does not believe that the grant will be increased or measures to combat educational disadvantage brought in if fees are introduced. When the government increased the registration fee by 69%, not a single extra cent was put into third level education. Equally, we do not for one moment believe that fees will only be introduced for the rich. British Prime Minister Tony Blair promised that fees would only be introduced for the rich before re-introducing fees for all students and cancelling the maintenance grant system. The scheme of student loans which has been set up has left students with massive debts and is further damaging access to education in Britain. We oppose the setting up of such a scheme here.

The activist based grassroots network will be holding an open meeting in Trinity College on Wednesday May 21st at 7pm, in The Synge Theatre in the Hamilton building

For further commentary ring on 085 7198001.

Print off flyer for Trinity meeting


For further updates stay tuned to


For an archive of news and commentary process to the Campaign for Free Education Website http:///www.freeeducation.cjb.net

Related Link: http://www.freeeducation.cjb.net
author by Dermot Looney - Campaign for Free Educationpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 11:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dublin's FM104 News has reported that Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Campaign for Free Education activists have occupied the Department of Social, Family and Community Affairs building in protest of the proposed cuts in the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA).

The eleven o'clock bulletin reported that a number of people had occupied the lobby of the building on Store Street in Dublin's City Centre.

A spokesperson for USI noted that, amongst others, a grandmother and a father of four were involved in the action, which highlights the government's scandalous intention to cut back on the allowance for mature students returning to education.

Related Link: http://freeeducation.cjb.net
author by CFE-erpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 11:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Typical Depressingly low mobilisation from USI on this one, CFE did no find out till last night and the CFE-ers taking part were not told of the actions planned till this morning. 6 have occupied a building (dept of social and family affairs). Cfe activists noiw trying to mobilise through phone networks to get people into town.

author by Student - TCDpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 12:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Finna Fail with it's working class voters is on to a winner, they know an issue like this allows them to push through extra charges without alienating core support. I say fair play; the middle classes of this country and particularly this city should pay. Maybe they will have to forgo the Golf membership or be forced into cashing in some of their equity but boo hoo. It's good to see the true-blue middle class PD's are with the students on this one. Please don't give me any sob stories about access to edjumacation for the working classes it is such a small fraction that it is negligible. Introduce fees and stop the rot that is middle class freeloaders who use the education system as a platform for high paid jobs. Tax the rich, make the students pay bastards.

author by DL - CFEpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 12:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Very little media coverage of today's protests - so far I think only 98FM and FM104 have featured the story in their hourly bulletins. Typically well-updated services at ireland.com and rte.ie/Aertel, as well as the news radio station NewsTalk 106, have yet to provide any coverage of the protests, despite covering the PD's opposition to fees as a main story.

Either they've refused to cover the student protests, or USI have been about as good on the PR side as they were with informing students about this.

The main focus of the protest is now to be at the Houses of the Oireachtas, and it will be interesting to see if the 1 o'clock news covers the issue.

Updates to follow on this site...

Related Link: http://freeeducation.cjb.net
author by take action.publication date Tue May 20, 2003 12:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

5 students just cut off from dail gates.occupation in the dept of social affairs over.more action planned.anyone up for more action come into town and get stuck in.meet at the dail asap or get a few punters togetheR AND TAKE AUTONOMOUS ACTION.

author by Party Hack - Socialist Partypublication date Tue May 20, 2003 12:57author address C(ynical)W(asters)I(naction)author phone Report this post to the editors

This must stop immediately, it will damage our ability to organise marchs to march up and down hills.

author by Finghin - SPpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 13:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm sick of these slurs against the SP being thrown about by some in CFE.

The last post is a load of crap. SP members have been some of the most active in the CFE and have always argued for and took part in occupations and direct action. Have a look at our website.

Related Link: http://www.syucd.cjb.net
author by King Tutpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 13:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

author by Finghin - SPpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 13:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Satire is humour that has the effect of exposing people. Saying that the SP has done nothing in CFE or against fees is not satire it is a lie.

author by King Tutpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 13:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Perhaps it could be about the SPs shenanigans in the Anti War Movement.

author by DLpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 13:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Calm down Finghín old buddy! No doubt someone just trying to wind you up. Are you able to make it into town this afternoon? The lads and lassies in Clare St could do with a hand at the moment.

author by For Fucks Sakepublication date Tue May 20, 2003 13:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Satire is something that can be hurtful ok, but for it to really work as satire it must have an inner truth. In this case it does, the SP opposed direct action in IAWM. Therefore it is satire to lampoon the role the SP might play in CFE given their (in)actions in IAWM.

Nopbody (except a moron in a hurry) would believe the message was by a SP or SYer

author by Finghinpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 13:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Cant come to Clare Street. I'm too busy being a virtual warrior.

author by Dermot Lpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 19:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

by Dermot L - Campaign for Free Education Tue, May 20 2003, 12:46pm

In the latest action to demand free third-level education for all, activists with the Union of Students in ireland (USI) and the Campaign for Free Education (CFE) have occupied the Department of Education building on Clare Street in Dublin City.

In the latest action to demand free third-level education for all, activists with the Union of Students in ireland (USI) and the Campaign for Free Education (CFE) have occupied the Department of Education building on Clare Street in Dublin City.

Approximately a dozen students have occupied the Department of Transport building on Clare Street in Dublin 2 in protest against the proposed reintroduction of third-level college fees.

The action is just the latest in a series of protests that have taken place across Dublin today to oppose not only the proposed fees reintroduction, but also the cutbacks planned for the Back to Education Allowance scheme, which allows mature students to re-enter education.

Already today students have occupied the Department of Social and Family Affairs on Store Street, and chained themselves to the gates of Leinster House, sending a clear message to Minister Noel Dempsey and the Fianna Fáil / PD government - "no fees, no way."

The protest has been organised by the Union of Students in Ireland along with the Campaign for Free Education, a grassroots movement set up almost a year ago to fight against fees and for greater access to education for students from underprivileged backgrounds.

The protestors have called on other students and all those supportive of the right for all to education to join them at their protest at the Department of Transport on Clare Street, which is near the "back" entrance to Government buildings.

add your comments

Where are you?
by Joe Tue, May 20 2003, 1:11pm

Department of Education or Department of Transport? it mentions the demo as being in both buildings in the arrticle

by Dermot L Tue, May 20 2003, 1:26pm

Department of TRANSPORT, Clare St (near Nassau St)

Very, very sorry, have been up all night and have a big interview in a couple of hours, just slipped there by mistake. Cheers for the reminder!

Just to reiterate, the occupation (still ongoing) is of the Department of Transport on Clare St. Those inside are urging autonomous action for free education and to oppose the reintroduction of college fees, and are also seeking support for the current protest at the Dept of Transport.

Hope that clears things up - off to bed for me now!

Editors. How About Moving This
by Grrr Tue, May 20 2003, 1:47pm

to the other thread?

Dept of Transport?
by Lost Tue, May 20 2003, 4:43pm

What effect do they have on college fee's surely its the dept of ed you need???

author by rasta4i'spublication date Tue May 20, 2003 19:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Those Dam Students
by rasta4i's Tue, May 20 2003, 4:44pm



A protest was heald by the Union of Students in Ireland outside the department of Transport today to show their anger at the intraduction of fees for collage places. As we stood in the rain I asked the students their views of the issue

add your comments

Doesn't it worry anyone the PDs are against this aswell
by Intrested Tue, May 20 2003, 5:29pm

I hope people realise that if this proposal gets knocked down nothing will bw done to help access for ages. these proposals arent brilliant sure taxing would make more sense but its not going to happen students should fight battles they can win all thier actions are going to do is help kill a proposal that however imperfect would help access and damage a minister how really does want to help access but has little enough chance at the moment.

by pc Tue, May 20 2003, 5:50pm

the issue of free third level education always seems to be on the agenda, its often here its on the english news every couple of weeks and there arguing about over in australia at the mo i was hearing on the radio last night,

how much does it cost the gov, say percent of gdp

author by Dermot L - CFEpublication date Tue May 20, 2003 20:09author email irishcfe at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

The student occupation of the Department of Transport on Clare Street that began over six hours ago may yet continue overnight, the protestors have confirmed.

Following an earlier occupation of the Dept. of Social and Family Affairs on Store St. and a brief protest at Leinster House, the protest, organised by the Union of Students in Ireland, continued with the occupation of the Dept. of Transport in Dublin 2, beginning around 1.30 pm.

Ten students, five male and five female, are now prepared to stay the night in the building, as are the waiting Gardaí. At least half of those involved are prominent activists in the Campaign for Free Education (CFE), the grassouts movement that has taken various other forms of direct action and protest throughout the year in calling for the right to free education for all and a radical improvement of access to third-level education.

Speaking from inside the Department building, singalled the intention of the student protestors to continue the occupation overnight. The occupiers are in good spirits and are being supported by a protest outside the building. O

Other students and all those supportive of these actions have been urged by those inside either to come down to Clare Street in support of the occupation inside, or to take autonomus action of their own in protest against this government's scandalous attempts to make our right to education a privilege.

Journalists wishing to contact those inside can call 085-7206574.

Related Link: http://www.freeeducation.cjb.net
author by Cian - CFEpublication date Wed May 21, 2003 03:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The occupation is continuing overnight and has entered its sencond day (Wednesday).

Its the first student occupation in over 15 years to manage to occupy a government department over night.

So if you are in town this morning (Wednesday) why not drop along to the Department of Transport in Clare Street (just at the end of Nassau st as you walk out of town past Trinity College, on the way to Merrion Square).

author by Paulpublication date Wed May 21, 2003 09:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The 10 students occupying the dept of transport left at around 8.15 this morning. The protesters urged other students to continue the resistance. meeting in trinity tonight at 7. contact 085 7198001 for more info.

author by conorpublication date Wed May 21, 2003 17:18author email conor at ziplip dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

the functions have a hold of me at the moment.

will a real-time gathering be held for those of us be-exam-ned at the moment any time soon? tonight is much too close to tomorrows exam for me to go. (I look after number 1ne f1srt).

fantastic occupation though. i see our fully-paid-up-members-of-the-grown-up-peoples-club the usi (the u is for union, not unactive*, the s is for students , not sabbats, thi i is for ireland, not for .....?) are doing more than fusu. pheww, no problemo when the right wingers try to kick them off campus cause they are a waste of expendature, and we the students jump in to save them because we know about the utopian nature of the union which never became a bureaucracy, which the right wingers dont understand but we never saw.

www.kraftwerk.com - still beautiful
http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/poverty.htm - still relavant

look fwd to reading the secretarys notes on the meeting on my computer on a study break from the study i do for a capitation fee.

good luck in exams/occupations/left-left/left-right/left-black cyber bickerings - special love to all who know their verson is true (-;


*i know this isnt a word.

Related Link: http://www.column.freeuk.com
author by sniperpublication date Thu May 22, 2003 15:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

somebody execute finign

author by Oswaldpublication date Thu May 22, 2003 15:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They are Siamese Twins, Oisin is attached to Fighin at the head, they share a (woefully inadequate) brain. You cant get one without the other.

author by James Redmondpublication date Thu May 22, 2003 18:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors


1. Discussion and reports from USI Actions on May 20th 2003
2. Discussion of current developments.
3. Preparations for the announcement.

Chaired by Finbar Dywer.


Redy- USI protests yesterday solely to exercise media clout against government, not mobilise clout of students. CFE activist rang and spreads word, attempts to mobilise as much CFE as possible, press releases done. Occupation in transport, ill prepared, objective solely to achieve publicity so no preparations for prolonged affair. Room chosen unimportant in terms of building infrastructure, hence Garda refusal to break dead lock. Occupations not in context of a strategy to build movement. USI cloud issue, present no clear strategy for an alternative to fees which will end educational disadvantage, as simple as grants not fees.
Cian- Not bad occupation, gained a lot of publicity, better than complete inactivity, shows point that 20 people won't defeat fees, didn't even think of mobilising students for or outside occupation, told Garth Keogh to set up open email contact list of students willing to take action over summer, did he? Will he?
Enid-the occupations and actions added to the momentum of support against fees and the debate in general, shows students are active.
Paul M- USI cloud issue, no clear argument on educational disadvantage, alternative to end inequality, grants not fees, accommodation- implicit in CFE.

Time for unilateral CFE action, our terms and arguments.


Paul D- now talk of student loans, previously loans buried, government playing pantomime, loans is real agenda. Research by NUS against.
Redy- loans international pattern.
Enid- fund education through an inequitable tax system, fees as an inequitable double taxation.
Cian- tax luxury items like cigarettes, derive income and discourage habits.

Corporation tax (12.5) too low, raise it. Capital gains. Even Harney says tax system is unjust.

Finighin- Tories in UK propose taking away fees but reducing number of places for working class people. Key argument is placing educational crisis in context of wider cutbacks, we will gain wider support, link up with others taking on the government.
Paul M- fees are the thin end of the wedge, PD's are opposed to idea simply because of the middle class vote. FF backbenchers are the same, serious backbench opposition, media is making key argument for government-fees for rich are ok. Battering ram to get stuff through such as BTEA.
Cian- don't give credence to necessity for cutbacks because of downturn.
Enid- ridiculous expenditure on Berties make up, military increase and government jet.


Need to focus on CFE, ignore USI.
Redy- Must attempt mobilisations beyond students, as body is dispersed.
Paul D- few student bodies still exist, trinity exam centre.
Cian- expect announcement in few days. Need to split into affinity groups to organise different aspects, delegation and responsibility. Shouldn't just do occupations like USI.
Redy- day X style build up to announcement, facilitate involvement.
Enid- review body delays, report cabinet meeting to clear, in drips and drabs not suddenly announced.
Paul M- TV3 poll positive, can build up momentum of activity, student movement- a questionable terms-has failed in terms of arguments, we need one day of real arguments which destroy notion of selfish bastard students simply concerned with safeguarding third level. Something serious is need to sway arguments.
Enid- letter writing campaign , everyone here, avalanche of mail, get our parents involved.
Caoimhe- not all parents are supportive.
Cian- letters not enough, desperate need to increase our numbers through open public activity, protest not occupation, meetings activists lists.
Ciaran- day x style activity, sit down protest outside Dail. Secondary schools?? USS?
Oisin- USS a write off, AGM full of careerists and young PDs.
Redy- USS has position against the school walkouts it grow out of, it will not back any of our actions and after occupation had a meeting with USI, obviously will opt for them over us.
Caoimhe- students hostile to activity outside, lack of confidence, as in teachers strikes action from secondary need to be self organised.
Redy- inform our contacts with our proposals from this meeting and invite them.
Oisin- extremely difficult to organise schools, need for two solid strong people in a school, repression by school authorities.
Cian- need for practical discussion and formulation of plan.

Something of a brain storming meeting, ideas bounced back and forth, loads of heightened discussion and very good constructive criticism. So now I will only write minutes for what was actually decided upon and the responsibilities taken up. I'll try portray the general sentiment and consensus, if anyone who was at the meeting disagrees with it please send in their own interpretation to this list. As there was some confusion over the actual strategy I will attempt a synopsis of it here.

Original idea was the hold an open publicly advertised extensively meeting in city centre location with no speakers, just a discussion from the floor to pull people into activity so it would be more an action work shop and not a talking shop. This idea then became superseded with that of protest next Wednesday, where we will hold a meeting immediately after it which will be flyered at the protest and activist lists gathered at it. Meeting will also be advertised through activist networks. The idea of a more serious action was also put forward as needed. The tactic of direct action at this is legitimised and justified.

From this we will build for a larger public protest on the day of the cabinet meeting outside the Dail and in the city where the report is discussed- this being the day x style scenario. In many ways, hopefully this will gain some sort of momentum similar to GNAW in media but smaller, we did action in the past and we promise it in future, a threat.

The idea of mass non payment was mooted, but realisation that middle class would be only ones to mobilise rule against it. Idea of mass refusal to fill in income assessment forms suggested.

After this we move into more serious action, with a clear rustication and clearer arguments against fees and for educational equality throughout the system.

So the schedule for the next weeks is;

1. Dail centred protest to be organised for next Wednesday evening. Public meeting to be organised for immediately after it to build for future. Activist lists to be formed at this protest and attempt made to get everyone involved in future.
2. Maximum possible build up to protest outside the dail on day of cabinet meeting, Day X style activity, sit-down.
3, After this more serious action will be organised, like all CFE actions this will be as a tool to mobilise and encourage as much autonomous activity against fees. To facilitate maximum involvement, the issue is to broaden the movement.

The responsibilities for the next week are;

Redy, Caoimhe; to organise protest and meeting for next Wednesday and material for it. To get involved in this ring James or Caoimhe.
General: Posters to be done Thursday, Friday and be ready for Saturday. On Friday in UCD posters will be placed on Paul. D's old election hoardings. And the city will be plastered. As many as possible must get involved in this.

Cian is to do a press release notifying of our activity.
Fi.D-is to explore the idea of is to explore the idea and possibilities of more serious action.

Agreed at meeting that Redy and Cian would act as spokespeople in press releases and immediate press contact. At actions media will be opened up to students participating. Cian subsequently stepped down as he felt that he was inappropriate since graduating. Consensus that F. Kelly be asked designated. Phone numbers are James; 085 719 8001 Finighin; 086 355 0529

There is also a need to organise colour, banners and so on to get ideas across and encourage participation. People can take this up autonomously, also possibility of doing some at day posters are being put on hoardings.

Any problems with these, ring me or sdend in your own minutes.

Related Link: http://www.freeeducation.cjb.net
author by Noel Hoganpublication date Fri May 23, 2003 13:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Would it be too much for you to simply ask what USI's proposals are to end inequality in education before you say the organisation has none?

We have a policy document which sets out what our alternative is - "Equality of Access to higher education" and we have constantly called for the "Report of the Action Group on Access to Third Level Education" to be implemented.

If you like, pop in, I'll give you a copy of both documents.

Number of comments per page
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