Sinn Féin EU candidate for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada has criticised the decision of University College Cork to award an honorary doctorate to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso when he visits the campus next week.
Ní Riada said:
"I think it is a poor decision and it sends out the wrong message.
"The people of this country, not least third level students, have suffered a great deal because of the policy of austerity being pushed from the EU under Mr Barroso's commission."
"This policy, being promoted by Barroso, has been turned into a sweeping platform of savage cuts to social infrastructure and taxes by weak domestic governments such as the Fine Gael/Labour one that we have at the moment.
"Mr Barroso is a strong advocate of austerity. This has led to student maintenance grants being cut and state financial support for postgraduate students being completely decimated.
"Only last year we heard of how UCC students had begun organising food baskets on campus to help needy colleagues struggling to make ends meet."
"Furthermore, it sends the wrong message beyond the gates of university. Sadly, I see it as UCC offering an endorsement to the austerity agenda.
"Mr Barroso is no friend to the people this state. He refuses to engage with any idea of the Irish people getting a fair deal from Europe regarding the €65 billion we have pumped into the banks in order to help prevent contagion and salvage the Eurozone project.
"Barroso rejects the notion of retrospective recapitalisation, preferring instead to see ordinary Irish people carry the can for the deeds of a cartel of greedy bankers.
"When you couple his stance on the banking crisis with the fact that youth unemployment is frighteningly high right across the Eurozone, you would have to wonder why UCC would consider it all.
"I'm sure UCC would justify it by saying its role is to foster intellectual engagement, not to cast political judgements.
"However, this is not really an engagement. It's more of a monologue. It's a pat on the back.
"Barroso's time at the European Commission has been about ring fencing the privileges of the rich and persecuting the poor. It is view that has been seized upon and embraced by the MEPs for this constituency.
"Frankly, it is an insult to ordinary families of this region; many of who struggle a great deal so that their children can attend University College Cork."