STUDENTS AT IT Tallaght attempted to block Education Minister Ruairí Quinn from leaving the college’s campus today, accusing him of locking them out of education.
The protest was staged around the Cabinet member’s vehicle while he attended the official launch of a new building.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) organised the demonstration to implore the Minister to hold a meeting with its deputy president Kate Acheson.
She wanted to question Quinn on the government’s position regarding further cuts to the maintenance grant. The union has urged the Government to make a commitment not to cut grants even further.
“The actions of student’s today in IT Tallaght are indicative of a wider feeling of betrayal felt by families around Ireland,” said president John Logue.
“The inadequacies of the new centralised grant application process, SUSI, have left tens of thousands of students without assistance to pay for rent, books and, increasingly, food. The Minister must commit to preventing further cuts to the maintenance grant in the upcoming Budget, given the continued hardship being felt by many families with children participating in higher education.”
Acheson told TheJournal.ie that she, along with IT Tallaght’s Student Union president Mark Mooney, was granted a meeting with Quinn.
During the brief conversation, the Minister said he had no plans to cut the maintenance grant currently paid to students but added that a capital investment report will examine the issue in 2013.
About 140 students formed a ‘guard of dishonour’ as Quinn entered and left the building.
“We also made it difficult for him to leave the main gate,” said Acheson. “We surrounded his car to portray this message that he had locked us out of education so we were locking him out – and then we blocked the car leaving, it was forced to do a U-turn.”
A number of UCD students also joined the IT Tallaght protesters and Gardaí were required to move some students to allow Quinn access to his vehicle.