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Sinn Féin will not stand for attack on right to higher education

21 March, 2009

Sinn Féin EU East and local election candidate for Kilkenny City, Kathleen Funchion has described the Minister for Education's plan to end free third level education as an unwarranted attack on the right to higher education. She said Sinn Féin will oppose this attack on higher education at every stage. Ms Funchion said, "Sinn Féin stands shoulder to shoulder with the students of Ireland in opposing the reintroduction of third level fees. We will not accept the reintroduction of third level fees under any guise. We believe that education is not a commodity that can be bought and sold, nor is it a luxury reserved only for those who can afford it. In these times of economic hardship, imposing fees on third level students is not something that this government or any other party should even be considering. 'Kilkenny Sinn Féin is to the forefront in campaigning to have a university campus for Kilkenny as part of the South East University campaign. We need to offer our young people the opportunity of gaining their education close to home enabling the local economy to reap the benefits of an educated, skilled workforce'. "The minister's proposals amount to an unwarranted attack on the right to higher education and will be detrimental to the future of this economy with USI predicting that it will restrict the rights of some 40,000 to access higher education next year alone. 'The revelations that the Minister for Education and Science will bring forward his proposals for ending free third level education in the next two weeks have sounded the death knell for free education. This year's leaving certificate students, even at this late stage will not escape these planned fees as the plan is due to come into effect in 2010. "The Minister has been reckless in his behaviour and cannot see that Ireland's future prosperity depends on making education the centre of any economic recovery plan. In the current economic climate we should be encouraging participation in higher education and not reducing it. "Sinn Féin will not stand for this attack on higher education and will fight it at every stage."

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