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FEE statement about Ahern protest in NUIG

category galway | education | feature author Wednesday February 04, 2009 21:17author by FEE - Galway - Free Education for Everyoneauthor email feegalway at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

featured image
This is NOT a Joke

Statement about protest held in NUIG on 2nd Feb at FF TD Bertie Ahern's visit.

Bertie Ahern was due to speak at the Literary and Debating society of NUI Galway tonight. The event was cancelled due to student protest and scuffles with the Garda.

Free Education for Everyone (FEE) called a protest against Aherns visit, applying the slogan theyre trying to block our access to college so well block theirs. Although Ahern is no longer Taoiseach he remains a Fianna Fil TD. The students were protesting the proposal of third level fees, the registration fee hike, and the general education cuts being introduced by the Fianna Fil/ Green government. It is on this basis that FEE attempted to block Aherns access to the campus.

About 50 students staged a sit down protest at the University Road entrance. Without provocation Garda launched themselves at the protesters. Instead of simply pulling students out of the way the Garda engaged in heavy-handed tactics flinging students away and dragging them by the hair in a totally uncalled for manner.

Seeing this, Aherns car turned around and came in by another entrance. Although not originally planned, students angered by Garda tactics became intent on completely blocking Aherns access to the college. This involved students standing in front of doors and being shoved out of the way. But at no point did protesters take violent action against the Garda.

When Ahern arrived at the speaking venue students gathered in front of the lecture theatre door and were forced into a tight corner by numbers of Garda. Even students not involved in the protest were included in this crush . The event was called off at this point.

After the crowd dispersed one protester was arrested and later charged for using insulting words and obstructing Garda. The protester was released later that night.

FEE accepts that the protest did not go as planned, but sticks by the initial attempt and reasons behind blocking Ahern from coming onto campus. It was the actions of the Garda that drove students to bring the protest indoors.

FEE is committed to building a mass movement of students against fees and education cuts across all levels, believing the best way to defeat fees and cuts is by active protest involving all students. To this end, FEE is involved in building for the USI national march against fees being held in Dublin this Wednesday.

Related Link: http://www.free-education.info
author by dunkpublication date Fri Feb 06, 2009 13:36author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hi Jim

I post this in regard to knowing what was the general feelings, prior to 2 years ago, in Ireland and also within the universities, Bottom line: the vast majority of people were not thinking too seriously about trying to change things, did not really critically question how things worked and certainly did not take action based on their critical thinking. The oft quoted "Im allright Jack" phrase was appropriate to that feeling during Irelands Tiger years.

But now, things have changed, and changed rapidly. Quite right, Ireland is in a financial mess, as are most of the countries of the world. The reasons for the mess for many is the flawed economic, social, political system that has grown up and allowed to dominate Europe and beyond, neo liberalism and capitalism. In Ireland, some did have critical arguments against it, but who listened? If we take it to the student level, most students were just happy to talk shite and go out on the lash on a friday night, all was a laugh. But the dream has ended with a bang, so now, thankfully, many are asking questions like "what is this mess we are in?", "how did we get here?", "how do we get out of it?".

For that reason I post to the Irish student bodies about the reality of student critical thinking and action here in Barcelona. Yes its a different society, yes its a place with a different political history and story, yes they go about things differently here. But, it would do Irish students no harm to at least learn a little bit about those stories, because, chances are, they will find much in common. Links might be forged, and in the long run, this might assist Irish students today.

Imagine if in Ireland that, as it was talked about on todays Pat Kenny radio show, it is going to get a lot worse before it is going to get better. Another 3 or 4 hundred jobs go here, another few hundred there, etc.... Huge government cut backs everywhere, students fees introduced, health care slashed further, pensions gone... now thats a scary scenario, and it might happen

Now, let us allow ourselves to imagine, or to dream a little....

On what might happen to alleviate that, perhaps something which is already starting to bubble in many parts of the world...

Irish people start to really develop a critical understanding of the forces at play both here and in the "developed" world, that being the mechanisms of global capitalism. They reject it as they see it as the cause of their problems and they start to talk more with themselves and those outside and to build alternatives. That movement grows, some or many governments will go, as Iceland did, as Greece nearly did, and still might do. Popular participative movements will start to organise, take to the streets, and if need be, occupy and resist. This will happen when the level of "activism" and political organisation, especially in the universities, develops far more than that which it was 2 years ago. I was home last august and im in regular contact with friends and family, i also tune in regularly to Irish radio, and there is definately change already happening, even on Ray Darcys show on Today fm, callers were calling in calling for Revolution. And, as far as i still know, the starry plough flies on top of the worker occupation there. So it is strange times indeed.

In finishing, id like to point out that this sort of stuff has happened before, but that people, critically pulling together, through their creativity and effort can create healthier alternatives that before were not even dreamt of.... such is life

Last week in Brazil, the WSF happened, but again little talk in ireland about this imporant process for change. Perhaps we should pay more of a close eye to going on there, both past and present. Ill leave you with a short vid summary of the recent book from Naomi Klein, the shock doctrine, in relation to that waking up that happened and is growing today in latin america. Many there went through their crisis, and whats growing there is now all the stronger than Ielands situation. Last Saturday, Brazilian president Lula boycotted the WEF in Davos to participate with the people in Belem, he said to the rich nations: "this crisis is not our crisis, its yours".

In time, hopefully, radical change will come to Ireland. Chances are that occupations will have to happen, a lot will change. But now as you are experiencing, as is said in Latin America:
"Another world is not only possible, its neccessary!"

The Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein - The Shock Doctrine - Part 1 of 6

9th World Social Forum Kicks Off in Brazil

Caption: Video Id: cvG0gbvZ4tY Type: Youtube Video
Embedded video Youtube Video

author by che_jesus - sppublication date Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This government has not looked for one penny off the rich, big business or the finance speculates to pay for the crisis, those who benefited most from the boom. Instead they come looking for students, the elderly and ordinary working people to take the hit. The bosses, property speculates and bankers caused this this crisis with the aid of the government who facilitated the unrestricted greed while the rest of us only got the crumbs of the table.

The value of the gas off the coast in Mayo is enough to plug the public finances with a lot left over. That was given away to a multinational company for nothing. That gas is the property of the Irish People. The ordinary people of Ireland should not except one cent of cuts in our health service, education system or work conditions. Make the rich pay for the bosses crisis.

author by dunkpublication date Thu Feb 05, 2009 13:08author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Regarding the situation in Ireland in relation to the proposals to cut fees, the student resistance to it, the solidarity and resistance from all sections of Irish society against these cuts and the wider economic- political crisis that we are in and what we can do about it...

Perhaps it would be very helpful to look further a field than our own shores to where there are massive student social movements fighting for change.

I live in Barcelona and nearly all the universities here are occupied by students. This is a step here, in an ongoing resistance to the Bologna plan, an EU directive that students feel is too large a step in the Neo Liberal direction.

Here people criticise and moan too, BUT, they quickly take it to the next step, action. Be that taking to the streets, taking control of the universites etc... To be in these spaces is quite amazing, they have 100s of people sleeping in them, imagine the old halls of trinity turned into tent city, they have canteens set up for feeding, they run classes, talks, films, assemblies to organise etc....

Perhaps, making contact with them would be good, share stories, ideas, strategy etc....
I have told them during past events what the story is, if you desire we can assist in a radio connection or something?

I previously posted on IMC-IE regarding this back in Dec 19, 2008

Good luck, be BOLD.

This is what students occupying a university looks like
2/2-No a Bolonya, Tancada UAB i Crrega Mossos: Fets 4MAR'08 Rector Llus Ferrer DIMISSI!!!

This is what an occupied university looks like:
Els estudiants de la UB mantenen la tancada

the main portal for occupied Catalan and Spanish universities:

Barcelona offers a way of DIRECT ACTION; occupy and resist
Barcelona offers a way of DIRECT ACTION; occupy and resist

occupied universities in Catalunya and Spain, most of BCN is occupied
occupied universities in Catalunya and Spain, most of BCN is occupied

Caption: Video Id: hV5uLCoSrrM Type: Youtube Video
Embedded video Youtube Video

Caption: Video Id: pB-WJu1P3Ec Type: Youtube Video
Embedded video Youtube Video

author by Con2publication date Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I see most people are not taking notice of your comment.... I will be starting university after I get my FETAC award. The only, ONLY reason I'm going to college is for the education. I couldn't give a shite about a career, wasting my life to make someone else filthy rich.
Another reason I'm going, is to meet like-minded people and all that. I'm a bit apprehensive about it all now. Maybe the student body will be slightly more radical with the recession.... or maybe most students wont feel a thing. I'm already on the breadline!
My point is, there should be very high prices for the rich... I personally think it should be done through tax.... But, what if the government lies (that would be shocking) and introduces fees for all classes. Then I'm truly fucked!

author by Brianpublication date Thu Feb 05, 2009 09:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In a country where armchair politics, pub-talk revolutions and radio-show text sniping are the main form of empty headed protest; I am proud that some students have realised that direct action sometimes is the only way to change things. Students and their energy have changed so much in the past. Forget the chattering, whinging classes, take action. Well Done.

author by Joseph Loughnane - FEE NUIGpublication date Thu Feb 05, 2009 04:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just want to say great work to the guys in FEE UCD, great activists and organisers and a lovely crowd to boot!
Lets make one thing clear, the march today cannot just be it, too many students are all to happy to protest when the SU tells them to twice a year. Thats pathetic! We need to push for this national shutdown of third level institutions for a day so as to show the Government that we do not approve of their underhand tactics and their slow progression into making the average man pay for their every tiny mistake.
A message of solidarity also to the FEE groups across Ireland, hope to meet you all one day.

author by pucapublication date Thu Feb 05, 2009 01:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good argument Con. We fought tooth and nail to have fees abolished when I was a student and a big motivation for many of us was that the universities were exclusively middle class. We figured (wrongly) that abolishing fees would allow people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to have access to quality third level education. Before fees were abolished the means tested grant system provided assistance to people who couldn't afford college otherwise. That system was pretty crap and tended to help out people who were outside the tax system like the farmers. Nevertheless those who qualified were able to go to college without debt and without living in abject poverty.

The abolition of fees has not resulted in a more representative student body. Instead it has entrenched middle class domination of the education system by allowing parents to invest in second level education with grinds services and private schools being the big winners. Anecdotally there is also evidence that standards have been slipping with Irish graduates less competitive than their European peers, at least as far as employers are concerned. Many university bosses complain of chronic underinvestment and the heavy emphasis on private funding for sciences at the expense of humanities is perhaps a symptom of this phenomenon.

Im thrilled to see FEE fighting their corner and students generally organising to protect their own intrests. Its good to see big demos and great to see crooks like Ahern getting chased out of town. He should be afraid to show his face in public. But those of us who aren't students need to ask what we want from our education system and how do we get there. Is free access to 3rd level the most productive use of limited funds that are available to support the education system as a whole? Maybe during a boom time when the state is run by a bunch of clowns who make shit up in the pub, but those days are over and we are back to the 80s when there is no money for certain indulgences.

author by Arm-a-Geddenpublication date Thu Feb 05, 2009 00:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done its about time somebody took the baton up in this Country,I have watched our nation being hijacked by Coporate Kildare St. PLC, the Corporate crime that has taken place beggars belief, and wee Bert led the pack. this country is rotton from the very top, corrouption has been encouraged by those who rule and its tenticles now reach into every corner of Irish society its like a cancer.
Compliments to you students, you are the up and coming next generation let them know that they have been rumbled. What took place in the Dail yesterday was disguisting I'am fully aware of the financial state the country is in, but who is responisible? me, you, its self explanatory but we once again take the hit but let this be the last time.
The nod, and a wink, syndrome is over.You should think about forming alliances with other campaign groups around the country the bigger the crowds the better.
Education is a right and should be Free for all except for those, whose parents are in a position to pay the fees.

author by slowhandpublication date Wed Feb 04, 2009 23:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I agree with Con as regards free fees being a scam. Third level education is overwhelmingly enjoyed by the those from the higher income brackets. In the 2006 Census 72% of all those In Ireland with at least a third level degree were from the professional, managerial and technical classes. ( http://beyond2020.cso.ie/Census/TableViewer/tableView.a...76940 ) . While I agree with a free education system for all, a situation at present exists where there is great inequality in Ireland and until this is tackled we cannot seriously promote free third level education for all - households that can afford to pay should pay, households that cannot should receive adequate support.

Such a policy would actually reduce inequaltiy in Ireland as it would target the publics money at those who need it while wealthy housholds who can afford to pay for third level education would not be subsidised by the taxpayer.

Moreover, the money that is saved could be ring-fenced and used to combat primary and secondary education cutbacks especially in disadvantaged areas where keeping children in school until their leaving cert has massive impact on life opportunites. Also the saved money could be used to extend Back to Education programme to low-paid workers rather than just to those on welfare

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fair play to the students who showed our ex-Anorak that we are not as listless and disengaged a nation as he would wish. Naturally, there will now appear as if from nowhere elements critical of the students' actions. This is to be expected. What the students did makes me, frankly, quite proud. Students began the civil rights movement in the North, the anti-Viet Nam protests in the 'Sixties, which I still recall. They have a vital role to play in energising an often supine society. To give Bertie Ahern an 'award' is the real outrage here. Whoever came up with that idea was someone with, doubtless, Fianna Fail ambitions. All around us we see signs of a society in deterioration; where anonymous people send newspaper clippings to, for instance, the Arts Council in Dublin to try to ruin an arts' project; where politicians run up enormous expenses on visits to the US; where cute hoorism is the order of the day, to be praised and admired in the banking system. Fair play to the students who said 'Enough!' Your work has only begun.

author by BertieBowelpublication date Wed Feb 04, 2009 05:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To think Bertie Ahern was going to get an "award" for his services to politics from the Lit and deb?? Well I for one am glad he was stopped. That guy is largely responsible for the mess we are in and had a hand in giving away our gas.He saw the s**t about to hit the fan and got out sharpish, thereby escaping all the flak he should have got. The guy is a traitor to Ireland. A treasonous corrupt little self serving rat. Its not an award he should be getting, but a long prison sentence and a jar of vaseline! People like him always seem to get away with it, so giving him a scare and depriving him of his little ego boosting "award" is probably as near to justice as we'll ever get. Very sad.

author by w.tonepublication date Wed Feb 04, 2009 00:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As with the recent cases of Sinn Fein activists arrested at protests in Dublin, the charges will hopefully be dropped.

author by Vigilante Rebel - Socialistpublication date Wed Feb 04, 2009 00:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Frankie is a great comrade, a fantastic young man with great spirit and proper pascifistic resistance. He has all our support, he did nothing wrong, there is no proof of anything he is accused of.

author by Educate to be Free - gra Shinn Finpublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 19:23author email osfnational at yahoo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

An gra Shinn Fin activist was arrested in Galway last night (Monday February 2nd) in ongoing protests against the introduction of Student Fees.

Frankie Gallagher, an 18 year old Donegal student, attending NUIG, and a member of gra Shinn Fin was participating in a FEE (Free Education for Everyone) protest, opposing the visit of former Fianna Fil Taoiseach Bertie Aherns visit to the Galway campus.

Condemning the arrest, fellow student and gra spokesperson Caoimhe Sloan said,

The arrest of Frankie by a jumped up Garda officer is totally unacceptable, and follows on from similar arrests of Dublin gra activists in previous months. These over the top reactions by the Dublin government to peaceful protest, shows they are not willing to be criticised and confronted on this issue and are resorting to bully boy tactics and arrest as a result.

The anti democratic manner in which they are dealing with the current fees debacle, and threatened arrest of those who challenge the governments onslaught on the budget and fees is an absolute disgrace, but it will not work, we will not be deterred by these intimidatory tactics, and they only serve to make us more resilient in our campaign to stop the introduction of fees.

We will support Frankie, and any other student arrested for daring to peacefully protest against student fees and we will be turning out in numbers in Dublin tomorrow to send a message out loud and clear that education is a right, not a privilege.


Related Link: http://www.osf.ie
author by Conpublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 17:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Irish universities and the irish student population are the nucleus of the 'conservtive backlash'. I began univeristy five years ago, already having worked in my community and within a leftist party. I had a developed sense of political and social right and wrong. I thought uni would be great, meeting with likeminded people and being steeped in a radical, rebellious and creative atmosphere.

I left university a year ago completely disaffected, demoralised and cynical. Such a conservative, self-serving, self-promoting, self-important and socially unconcious mass of people! I first experienced widespread vitriolic racism at univeristy, amongst my supposedly 'educated' and 'enlightened' classmates. In my large and predominantly working class school I had not encountered such a lack of compassion or interest as I did among the student body. Not just politically conservative were they but also educationally so. I noticed no passion for learning or creativity, no propensity to be different or to independently expand the mind.

I lived with a student doctor for a year. When I asked him why he wanted to be a doctor he answered immediately and truthfully - Money! Not a shred of compassion. He will become the bored doctor who stares at your chart, mutters something to a nurse, refused to look at you, let alone make eye contact, then walk away. This university atmosphere is cementing the conveyor belt health 'service' we have.

Even those students who at first glance seemed 'alternative' or 'hippy' or 'crusty' were following an established fashion pattern!
Even the members of the university branch of the political party I was once a member of were conservatice. Most weren't leftist and those that were were completely dependent upon established theories.

Irish universities are nothing more than training grounds for bland people for bland jobs. Humanities and Arts departments are being shrunk. Corporate sponsored technology, buisness and computing departments are growing.

So Free Fees for Everyone??

Not a hope. Screw the middle class. The grants system does not open universities to the vast majority of working class young people, nor do free fees. It only makes it easier for middle class people to get in.

Middle class students, lecturers and administrators are consolidating universitty education for their own class interests.

I say massively increase fees for the middle class. Free fees and large grants for working class students.

Why marxist-lenninist groups such as the RSYM and trots like the SP aren't reaching this analyis is beyond me.
No broad front with the burgeoisie. Its there way of controlling ye!!

author by ex-studentpublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 17:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's a shame to see people from the University newspaper and other commentators condemn the actions of the student group FEE. One would have hoped that in the current economic and social climate both nationally and internationally that students would be at the forefront of expressing their doubts about the prevailing government, as well as the economic system as a whole.

While FEE certainly seem aware of the processes of change which are underway, it would seem that many in the University are not, showing the dearth of constructive criticism within our educational system.

As regards the Lit and Deb society condemning the actions of the group, I believe that FEE clearly stated some time ago that their objective was to prevent FF TDs from entering campus until the plans to reintroduce fees are shelved. At least they demonstrated coherence in their objectives, understanding that the act of preventing Bertie Ahern from speaking provided a clearer political signal to the government and the media.

No doubt this understanding was also garnered from the knowledge that the inevitable "debate" the Lit and Deb society planned to organise would likely have been dominated by Bertie Ahern; even on crutches he is more than capable of avoiding questions on any matter; Joe Higgins tried and tried and still mostly failed in his endeavours during his time in the Dail.

author by Witnesspublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 16:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Hear this: to say that FEE- a group which wants to keep university an open space for everyone- would go about this by attacking fellow students and making them feel unsafe on campus sounds a little ridiculous, doesn't it? On the other hand the dispraportionate violence inflicted upon students by the gardai is not so unbelievable. Police brutality is not a new thing.

The violence which was experienced by students- protesters and Lit & Deb folk alike- was a result of gardai throwing people from left to right in the middle of a crowd. And keep in mind, if any protesters actually displayed any violence towards the gardai, they would have been arrested without hesitation.

author by @publication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 13:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

RSYM: Activists Assaulted and Racially Abused as Anti-Fee Group See Great Success

Comrades from Sligo RSYM and Galway RSYM were assaulted and racially abused by members of the Gardai as the group FEE scored a great success which saw the cancellation of a planned event at the National University of Ireland, Galway, honouring Bertie Ahern. FEE (who exemplify the idea that education is a right, not a privilege) organized this protest in accordance with their stance that as long as fees are being introduced for 3rd level educational institutions no Fianna Fil TD shall gain entry to NUIG.

The energetic Galway branch of the group (which boasts a membership comprising of individuals from several political organisations), conducted themselves superbly in the form of a peaceful protest at the gates of the college which was brutally disrupted by members of the Gardai. A number of the protesters were assaulted by the Gardai including several female members of FEE. Luckily the behaviour of the Gardai was captured on film with one video indeed showing a member of the RSYM being racially abused. A member of FEE was then arrested and in the ensuing melee where the Gardai again showed their penchant for unnecessary force, a female member of the group was struck in the face and required medical attention.

An RSYM spokesperson said: The behaviour of the Gardai tonight was nothing short of a disgrace. It was completely unacceptable and further demonstrates the nature of this partitionist police force. The legal system in the 26 counties, as in all capitalist societies, is set up to defend bourgeois interests, something which was clearly on show tonight.

On the attacks and arrest:

The activist who was arrested is an excellent republican socialist and is a friend of our movement. He is being made a scapegoat by the Gardai who were no doubt fuming at being revealed as a complete shambles. He is a fine republican and I hope he is out and working with FEE again soon. He was involved in a completely peaceful protest and it is clear (noting video footage) who instigated any escalation, the Gardai.

In regard to the assault on our member, he was dragged to the ground and struck twice in the face. Im not too sure yet all that the video footage will reveal as I havent viewed it in its entirety, but a member of the Gardai was definately caught on camera racially abusing another of our members. I personally witnessed this incident and luckily another RSYM member caught the incident on his mobile where the remark can be clearly heard. Tonight was a hugely successful event despite these incidents(which included branch men wielding batons) and I would like to congratulate all the members of FEE who as always stood so passionately behind the right of everyone to free education.


author by Conorpublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 13:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done all, solidarity from Dublin.... No fees!

author by Samuspublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Some phone-camera footage has appeared on YouTube from the night.

Caption: Video Id: 7f_cDijEPbM Type: Youtube Video
Embedded video Youtube Video

author by sudopublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's good to finally see an impartial and accurate report of things. The issue is being exaggerated and blatantly lied about in some cases.

author by Capairipublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One student arrested as Bertie Ahern prevented from appearing at NUI Galway
by Kevin O'Connor

There were scenes of violence at the Quadrangle and Concourse buildings of NUI Galway tonight (February 2nd) followed by arrests and claims of police brutality which continued on for over an hour throughout Bertie Aherns short visit to the University.

Ahern was on campus to take part in a much anticipated public debate organised by the Literary and Debating Society and to be presented with the Presidents Medal, an award given by the society to individuals in recognition of their work and achievements.

The event was marred by protests from the start by members of the Free Education for Everyone (FEE) organisation who had put posters around the campus encouraging people to protest the visit with the slogan If Fianna Fil TDs want to block our access to college, well block theirs, in reference to the proposed hikes in third level fees by Fianna Fil. When Ahern arrived at the Quadrangle building at the entrance to the college, his path was blocked by a large group of protesters. The protestors then claim that they were rugby charged by police; however the protestors did succeeded in denying Ahern access to the Quad building where he was scheduled to meet members of young Fianna Fil, as well as the president of the University.

It was outside the quadrangle building where one protestor was arrested, it is unclear as of yet what charge if any will be brought against him.

Ahern was then escorted to the concourse building by several plain clothes and uniformed police where they were again met with severe resistance. After several minutes of scuffling and pushing, the Gardai did manage to beat back the protestors enough to gain access to the concourse building; however, the lecture hall where the public interview event was to take place is located a hundred metres or so from the entrance. Aherne, who after a recent broken leg which had caused this event to previously be postponed, now walks with the aid of a walking stick at quite a slow pace was escorted down the wide concourse past hundreds of members of the public and students who were queuing outside the lecture hall. The entourage was forced to move at a snails pace as a roving blockade was set up by protestors linking arms and scuffling with Gardai, several Gardai and FEE protestors were seen to be engaged in quite serious physical confrontations, as well as abuse and small missiles being hurled at the former Taoiseach.

Several members of the public in the queue received very minor injuries, as well as some of the Lit and Deb committee who were attempting to calm the situation.

Although Mr. Ahern kept smiling throughout the ordeal, it was obvious from his demeanour and expression that he was quite shaken and disturbed by the events that were taking place around him.

One member of the public was later quoted as saying I told one of the FEE protestors to chill out, then he took a swing at my face.

Bertie Ahern and his entourage were escorted to a nearby room adjacent to the lecture hall so as to allow the situation to calm down, one plain clothes Garda was forced to employ the use of an extendable baton on the protestors in order to secure passage into the room.

Several minutes passed before Oisn Collins, a member of the Literary and Debating society committee made a statement to the waiting crowd to the effect that Bertie Ahern had left the building and that his appearance had been cancelled. However, a discussion and public apology would be made inside the lecture theatre. At this point, the FEE protestors were heard to cheer loudly, while many members of the public drifted away in silent disappointment and anger.

Dan Colley, the auditor of the Literary and Debating Society stood before the sixty or so people in the hall who decided to stay for the discussion. Mr. Colley did not wear the robes and chain that is customary at the societys events and said that standing orders were cancelled and that the following discussion would not employ usual debating rules, but requested the crowd, a mixture of FEE activists, public and students, be civil.

Mr. Colley then confirmed that Bertie Ahern had left the building and that the appearance was cancelled by him on the advice of campus security and Gardai for fear of the safety of Mr. Ahern and indeed of Mr. Colley himself.

The discussion was then opened to the floor, with several students expressing disappointment and embarrassment at what had happened and claiming that they may have had sympathies with the cause of FEE in the past, that their actions tonight had lost their support entirely.

FEE members who spoke expressed joy at blocking Mr. Aherns entrance and that what we wanted to achieve was to highlight the issue of third level fees by blocking Aherns entrance to the college since he is trying to block ours by introducing fees.

Many of the Literary and Debating Society, as well as other students commented on the stupidity of FEEs actions and argued that more could have been achieved for FEEs cause had the former Taoiseach been permitted to speak and then be questioned from the floor instead of being stopped from appearing altogether.

Speaking to Sin, Students Union president Muireann ODwyer that NUI Galway Students Union condemns the actions of a small number of people which led to the cancellation of Bertie Aherns audience with student society Lit and Deb. The Union believes violent protest is never appropriate, and strongly condemns attempts to stifle the activities of any student society on campus.

Some students were hurt tonight, and more were afraid. The actions of both Gardai and a small number of protestors were unnecessary. It seemed to all get out of hand. We are very upset that students who wanted to see an engaging interview were frightened and some were even hurt.

Related Link: http://www.sin.ie/cms/view/332/
author by Mike Antipublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lit & Deb event marked with violence
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, scheduled to give a talk on his career as a politician in Ireland to the University's Literary & Debating Society was prevented from speaking by protest actions organised by anti-fees organisation FEE (Free Education for Everyone).
Former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern was due to give an address to NUIG's Literary and Debating Society on Tuesday, on the topic of his political career. He was due to be presented with the President's Medal, an award that the Lit n Deb has previously presented to Noam Chomsky and Patrick Kielty. The scheduled meeting of the society was however disrupted by protest actions by the group FEE, Free Education for Everyone.

Ahern's entrance to the college was first blocked by the FEE group, who were then involved with an altercation with the Garda presence on campus for the event. Ahern proceeded to the Concourse, escorted by a number of plain-clothes and uniformed Garda officers, where there were further scuffles and reports of violence. Mr. Ahern eventually made it inside the concourse, but the event was cancelled on the advice of Gardai and security personnel. Following the cancellation of the event, the Lit n Deb held a brief public discussion regarding how the events had transpired, and broke up for the evening.

A number of members of the public suffered minor injuries, mostly bruising. Members of FEE have alleged that the Garda presence on campus acted in an agressive and unjustified manner, and one arrest has been made. FEE and their leadership have been roundly condemned and criticised on the NUIG student forum, the SIN boards.

Related Link: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0203/1232923384364.html
author by Metoopublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was at the very front of the queue and have to say that missy is right in her summary of events, noone was penned into a corner by gardai. and the pushing and shoving was caused by the protesters.

author by Mepublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 09:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Watched it back on the video later and it is very obvious that the Gardai took advantage of the turn around the O'Flaherty to push the protesters back against the door. You can hear the protesters yelling that people were falling over and to stop it.

author by Missypublication date Tue Feb 03, 2009 05:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While I didn't witness any of the outdoor protests so I can't comment, I was actually one of the students in this so called "crush" where "students gathered in front of the lecture theatre door and were forced into a tight corner by numbers of Garda".
This is completely untrue. The only time I was pushed back against the door was when protesters and members of FEE came into this corner to block the entrance. Yes the gardai were there, but they merely acted as a barrier, they at no point pushed students back towards the door. Students were only pushed back towards the door when other protestors pushed them there.

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