Elections protest call due to student fees threat

Students were urged today to vote against government candidates in the local and European elections over the possible reintroduction of third-level fees.

The Union of Students in Ireland is running a campaign to encourage all its members to get out and vote in June.

The body warned the Government its campaign of protest would continue until it backed down and removed the fee threat.

Shane Kelly, USI president, said: “We will be working hard over the next seven weeks to ensure that all of our members get out and vote, and we will be telling them to vote against all candidates running for government parties.

“For too long students have been seen as apathetic and an easy target, but 200,000 registered voters is very difficult to ignore, and we will be ensuring that those 200,000 voters make fees their number one issue.”

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe is due to bring proposals on the fees issue to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

However he signalled last week the matter may not be decided upon until after the June elections.

Mr Kelly said any return of fees in the current economic climate would serve to make the situation worse.

“We need to ensure Ireland’s future prosperity by making education the very centre of our economic recovery plan, this means widening participation rates not reducing them,” he said.

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