Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has criticised the decision by the Gardaí to refuse permission for a sleep-out protest by third level students at Leinster House which had been organised by the Union of Students Ireland (USI).
Describing the decision as “inexplicable and a curtailment of people’s right to protest” Deputy O’Brien said there were questions around the legality of the garda decision which he believes impinges the right to peaceful assembly.
Deputy O’Brien said: “In a properly functioning democratic society, being able to protest is a fundamental right yet the third level students who wanted to make their views heard outside our national parliament have had that right curtailed.
“The inexplicable decision by the gardaí to ban a sleep-out protest makes no sense whatsoever. It is an insult to students who have had to endure the failures of SUSI, the grant awarding agency, as well as hikes in fees and the 3% reduction in the income threshold for the maintenance grant.
“It seems the gardaí are adopting a similar policy to the government who want to censor debate and political discourse and I question the legality of this decision which seems impossible to justify.”