FEE Galway March and occupation of AIB


On Wednesday 29th February, over 200 people marched on the streets of Galway against the government’s ongoing attacks on the education sector. The march was organised by Free Education For Everyone (FEE) Galway in conjunction with NUIG Students Union, to fight back against cuts including the increase of third-level fees to €3000 by 2015, abolition of postgraduate grants and the slashing of the numbers of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs), which FEE views as part of the wider neo-liberal attack on free education and further argues that all of these measures make education increasingly inaccessible to working-class people.

The protest was part of a National Day of Action  by students throughout Ireland and also focused on highlighted cuts to primary and secondary level education. It was billed as “Time To Get Angry: Galway March against Education Cuts”

The march began at 1pm from Áras na Mac Leinn on NUIG campus and proceeded to Eyre Square. Along the way the march was joined by a number of secondary school students, many of whom had walked out of school in order to be there. At Eyre Square, the march converged and speeches were heard from FEE members Will O’Brien, Sarah McCarthy and Evelyn Fennelly as well as other SU speakers. The march then proceeded to Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh’s office in Bohermore (which had only weeks previously been the target of a FEE occupation where 9 members were arrested).

From Bohermore, the march then proceeded, led by FEE, to a busy Shop Street, where 30-35 protestors occupied the well known AIB city centre branch at Lynch’s Castle. The bank was closed by plainclothes Gardaí and bank officials at this point, and remained closed for the rest of the day. The occupiers were supported by a large crowd who remained outside in solidarity, with Gardaí refusing to allow anyone (with the exception of journalists) to enter. One woman was arrested after attempting to give food to the protestors under a minor public order charge. She was taken to Mill St. Garda Station for questioning.

Occupiers made the decision to hold the bank until 4pm, the banks’ normal closing time, and then left peacefully. The protestors then decided to march on Mill St. Station until their comrade was released. A demonstration was held outside the station, which obstructed the entrance for some time. The detained protestor was released shortly after 5pm and a file has been sent to the DPP. The march then dispersed.

Free Education for Everyone (FEE) is a grassroots group of students and college staff, set up to fight the re-introduction of fees while campaigning for genuinely free education for all. FEE activists have organised protests, occupations and blockades across the country since 2008.

Free Education For Everyone: http://free-education.info

FEE Ireland: http://www.facebook.com/feeireland

FEE Galway: http://www.facebook.com/FEEGalway