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Fianna Fáil's refusal to commit to the abolition of student fees is "gutless" - Jonathan O'Brien TD

19 February, 2016 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Jonathan O'Brien TD has described as "gutless" Fianna Fáil's confirmation that the party will not scrap student fees if elected to government.

Speaking from Cork City today, Deputy O'Brien said;

"In this morning's debate on education hosted by Newstalk, Fianna Fáil's spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue, confirmed that his party has no plan to abolish student fees if elected to government.

"In their manifesto, Fianna Fáil have committed only to freezing the college registration fees at the current rate of €3,000 per annum.

"These fees place a huge financial burden on the shoulders of students and their parents. In many cases, it means having to come up with €12,000 just to access and remain in a third level course. This is a big ask for those on low and middle-incomes. The strain of meeting the fee can often push students over the poverty line. We have all heard the disturbing stories of students having to rely on campus food banks just to make it through the week.

"The increase in student fees and the cuts in supports has resulted in many students having to drop out of their courses.

"By ignoring this reality, Fianna Fáil are perpetuating a policy of exclusion. Their “freeze” proposal is gutless and it falls far short of a full commitment to equality in education.

Fianna Fáil are telling everybody that they want to create 'an Ireland for all' but clearly their vision does not include hard-pressed students.

"Sinn Féin will abolish student fees over a term of government by incrementally reducing the student contribution while replacing the revenue lost to the third level institutions through the central exchequer.

"We have also pledged to introduce maintenance grants for postgraduate students and reverse the changes to the adjacent rate of the grant so that greater numbers can avail of this support.

"Sinn Féin believes that education is a basic and fundamental human right and should be available to everyone on the basis of full equality. It is disappointing that Fianna Fáil doesn't share that view when it comes to third-level education."

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