User:Mrchris/Irish students clash with Gardaí over fees
Thursday, November 4, 2010
On Wednesday, students in Ireland clashed with Gardaí (police) after a student rally against suggestions the annual student fees may rise from €1,500 to €2,500 as part of austerity measures by the Irish government.
The protest was organised by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) who said over 40,000 took part in the rally at Government Buildings. The USI president, Gary Redmond, said a rise in fees would have a major impact on students and would be met with strong opposition.
After the rally about 2,000 people staged a sit-down protest outside the Department of Finance. More than 30 people occupied the lobby in what they described as a "peaceful sit-in". A student who engaged in the sit-down protest outside the department said "I wanted action. We just had words." Within minutes, Gardaí converged on the crowd with the riot squad, garda vans, dog units, and the mounted unit. Socialist Workers Party spokesperson Karl Gill said Gardaí had aggravated a peaceful sit-in.
In violent scenes, Gardaí forcibly ejected students from the lobby and street as eggs, bottles, and bricks were thrown. People claimed protesters were pulled out "by their ankles", and one student said "they're beating every last one of them". During the scuffles people were visibly injured and bleeding. Students reported being "kicked", "rammed", and "trampled" by Garda horses while sitting on the ground.
Gary Redmond, USI president, said the "organisation is deeply disappointed at the destructive behaviour of a minority of people", and that “left-wing” groups had engaged in “anti-social violence” which diverted attention from its campaign. A student said, "we didn't want this", "the media is going to focus on is the riot and not the peaceful protest that we made. They hijacked the whole thing. Nobody will listen to us now."
Gardaí said the event was hijacked by a group of “militant and aggressive” protesters. Several people were taken away by the Gardaí and three were arrested. Three Gardaí received medical attention including a Garda with a broken nose. The vice president of the National College of Art and Design Students Union, Wilm Abrook, thanked the Gardaí for their patience.
Historically the Union of Students in Ireland have backed and organised similar occupations of government buildings. In 2004, members of the union occupied the offices of the Department of Education and Science which ended after a meeting with senior department officials. In 2009, the union organised the occupation of the Department of Transport and Department of the Environment. Aodhán Ó Deá, then president of the union. described the occupations as a “plan of direct action ... to target various departments and send them a message — not only to the Department of Education but to the whole Cabinet — that we’re against fees.”
- Seán Flynn and Conor Lally. "Violent clashes at student protest" — , November 4, 2010
- "Student protest brings chaos to Dublin streets" — , November 4, 2010
- "Clashes follow Dublin protest" — , November 3, 2010
- "Gardaí, students clash in Dublin" — , November 3, 2010
- "Riot police and students clash in Dublin violence" — , November 3, 2010
- Seán Flynn and Harry McGee. "Greens set to support fees of up to €2,500" — , November 2, 2010
- Deirdre Fogarty. "25 students occupy Department of Transport" — , April 14, 2009
- "Students protest against registration fee" — , August 22, 2004