THE PRESIDENT OF the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) was released late last night following his arrest in the Dáil visitors’ gallery earlier.
John Logue was arrested by Gardaí as around 100 students gathered in the gallery during the debate on a Private Members’ Bill regarding the failures of the student grant system and the wider issue of educational supports.
The Fianna Fáil bill was defeated by the government and following the vote Logue is said to have stood up and turned his back on the TDs, prompting other members of the protest from Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin to do the same.
According to a spokesperson for the USI, a Dáil steward came over and asked Logue and others standing to sit down but they did not immediately do so.
“Eventually John was the last one standing and a guard was called over and told him to sit down as well. This was all very quiet, there was no ruckus, no shouting or anything like that,” Mooney said.
However eventually the Gardaí arrested Logue and took him away for questioning. He was released without charge at around 11pm last night. His was the only arrest during the incident.
USI had organised a number of demonstrations and meetings yesterday with thousands of students taking to the streets of Galway to protest against proposed fees of €3,000 and further grant cuts in the forthcoming Budget.
There has also been anger in recent days with the problems being encountered with the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) system for dealing with grant applications.
Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said that there was “perverse irony” in Logue’s arrest given the “shambles that has been made in the processing of students’ grants”.
“Instead of being arrested, John and his colleagues in the USI should be commended for their efforts in highlighting the plight of their fellow students, thousands of whom are struggling to remain in college without any financial support,” he said in a statement.
Additional staff have been put in place to deal with the backlog of applications with Education Minister Ruairí Quinn already having apologised to students and parents for the problems they have been encountering.
“It is not acceptable for colleges to prevent students from accessing libraries, email accounts, lecture notes, or any resource because their grants have not yet been processed,” he said in the Dáil on Tuesday.