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O’Keeffe in need of reality check – Doherty

6 July, 2009 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Speaking as Batt O’Keeffe prepared to present his proposals on college fees to the cabinet this week Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty described as ‘ridiculous in the extreme’, the Minister’s notion that fees will not affect the less well off.

Speaking today Senator Doherty said, “As predicted O’Keeffe has waited out the local and European elections before moving on his plans to reintroduce fees to third level students.

“As yet the Minister has given no indication of what mode of fees he intends to introduce, be it upfront tuition fees or Fine Gael’s equally regressive and dishonest graduate tax. He has said that his proposals will be signed off on by September when pupils start back at college.

“His notion that these fees ‘will not affect the less well off’ and are ‘family-proofed’ and that families will be ‘pleasantly surprised’ is ridiculous in the extreme. The minister is obviously living in cloud cuckoo land. These comments are insulting to all those who will now have to scrimp and save and in a lot of cases completely forgo their education because of the incompetence of this government and this minister. It really shows just how out of touch the Government is with everyday life.

“Figures from the Minister for Education and Science’s economist show that, at most third level fees would raise less than €30 million per annum. This is before tax relief on tuition fees of 40% are included. Given the nature of the chronically under-funded tertiary sector, this amount will have no real financial impact and any potential benefit would be lost as thousands of students are forced out of higher education.

“Sinn Féin is totally opposed to this attack on education and to the dishonesty and disrespect shown to students and their families by Fianna Fáil, the Greens and Fine Gael.

“The Minister needs a reality check. His proposals will force thousands of students out of education. He should be ashamed of himself.” ENDS

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