Thousands of Students Protest against Fees

Date:

On Wednesday 22 October, something over 10,000 students marched in the centre of Dublin to protest the proposed introduction of fees. The student members and supporters of the WSM were in attendance and distributed thousands of leaflets which discussed the origins of the attack and argued that students will need to build a mass movement across the education sector to defend and improve equality of access to education.The march happened just as a demonstration of pensioners against the scrapping of automatic access to medical care was winding up. Anarchists will work to show that these sectors are being targeted to bear the fallout of the recession because the government sees them as too weak to fight back. The pensioners have already shown that determination in the face of such cut can quickly push State plans into disarray - students will need to implement this lesson and get organised!

LEAFLET TEXT:

Crisis! Disaster! Chaos!

The world seems about to end. The markets are convulsing, the banks are tumbling, the entire island is about to become some sort of black hole off the coast of Europe. Never fear though, we’ve got a brilliantly competent political establishment to shepherd us through the economic wilderness, and in the Budget on Tuesday 14 they revealed their master-plan, carefully crafted, as Mary Hanafin said, to ‘protect the vulnerable’. Unfortunately, it seems like they’ve got a different understanding of who exactly ‘the vulnerable’ in Irish society are. It’s not the poorest workers, who’ll get hit hardest with the one percent levy, it’s not all of us who can’t afford private health-care, and it’s not the chronically under-educated sectors of society, who’re facing the loss of child benefit, class size increases etc. etc. No, ‘the vulnerable’ are those like the banks, whose deposits and stability have been guaranteed by our tax money, and the builders, who, thanks to good ol’ boy Parlon, don’t need to worry about limits on their profits from fixed-prince contracts. In fact, maybe ‘the vulnerable’ means the friends and cronies of the Fianna Failers, those who have access to the decision-makers and can put a bit of pressure on to make sure things turn out alright.

It may have been the bankers and builders who gained most from the economic boom, but that sure doesn’t mean they’re willing to help pay for the bust. No, if cuts are to be made, they’ll be made where it won’t harm the government or their friends – increased taxes, attacks on an already crappy health service, and the further wealth-based segregation of education. And part of this is the re-emergence of fees for third-level education, with the doubling of registration fees as just the start. If you add this to the halving, and eventual cut in child benefit for 18-year-olds, it’s pretty clear that the people who’ll be hurt by this are the ones who are already struggling to get their kids to college. As for students, we’re going to be forced to take out big loans, work shitty jobs (if we can find them) to keep heads above water and finally emerge out of college into an economic wasteland. Fuck that.

The reason that students, and all the others getting shafted in the budget are being told to take the fall-out of the recession is because the government think they can safely push us around. That’s not going to change with a few demonstrations and speeches; we’ll need to develop our own power, in massive self-organisation from the grassroots level and in our willingness to take the fight to the government. We need to build a national campaign that can fight the battle to stop the further limitation of access to third-level and, ultimately, push to improve the entire education system from pre-school upwards. This will require a lot of work, and means that students will need to forge links with staff and students at all levels; we’re not the only ones losing out here, and we won’t win by going it alone.

This leaflet is being distributed by anarchists who are students or workers in education. We’re going to work to build a democratic and open campaign that can challenge the imposition of fees and push to improve access to and quality of education. We want a society where access to wealth and power is equally distributed, and we’re going to start by pushing for that in our own struggles. If you want to find out more about anarchism, or just get involved in the fight against fees, check out our website at wsm.ie, where you can get in touch.

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