Students camp outside Dáil in fees protest

Dozens of students were tonight pitching tents outside Leinster House to protest against the re-introduction of third-level fees.

Dozens of students were tonight pitching tents outside Leinster House to protest against the re-introduction of third-level fees.

Even though most TDs and Senators are enjoying the long summer break, a large crowd of disgruntled college-goers will spend the night camping on the pavements of Kildare Street to voice their opposition to any tuition fees system.

The demonstration is the latest in a series organised by the Union of Students Ireland (USI).

USI President Shane Kelly said the camp-out is designed to highlight under-investment in education over the last decade.

“We want to point out the waste of taxpayers’ money by this government,” he said. “They should’ve been investing in the world-class education system which they always promised.

“Instead they want to punish third-level students and their parents by getting them to pick up the tab for fees.”

Middle-income families already feeling the pinch of an economic downturn would be worst hit if fees were brought back.

“When you consider that it would cost €75,000 to send one child to college for four years, this could be up to €220,000 for a family with three children.

“It is practically and physically impossible for parents with middle-income jobs to find this kind of money.”

Education minister Batt O’Keefe has insisted that only high-income families would be targeted if fees were to make a comeback.

Students armed with tents, sleeping bags and placards are expected to remain outside the Dáil until 10am tomorrow.

The union’s anti-fees campaign will step up a gear when regional demonstrations take place in college towns around the country over coming months.

Mr Kelly said it will culminate in a national day of protest in Dublin early next year.

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