FREE Education for Everyone (FEE) has expressed its disappointment after a national magazine described the group as ‘militants’. Phoenix magazine based an article on socialist party member, Paul Murphy, who is currently involved with FEE and was active in the previous campaign against fees.
Mr Murphy felt that the achievements of FEE were belittled by the magazine saying, “It’s not a good representation of FEE. It doesn’t mention the people involved or the kind of things FEE has achieved. It just references a few protests.” He claimed that there were a number of problems within the article itself saying that “there was a reasonable number of factual inaccuracies as well as sending a message in terms of my role and the socialist party. They were implying something that isn’t really there.”
FEE are currently working with the Students’ Union (SU) on the campaign against fees. Although Mr Murphy admits that there was a “degree of tension” between both groups, he felt that there was a good relationship between them. “We have a good relationship with UCDSU considering the differences we have and we are able to work alongside them without giving up our criticisms of them.”
The national protest organised by USI on Wednesday 6th of February was, according to Mr Murphy, the last large scale demonstration planned for this year. “We are planning other events in a number of different colleges,” said Mr Murphy. “Last week, there was a protest down in Galway where Bertie Ahern was giving a speech. There are things like that coming up on the campus.”
Mr Murphy stated that more must be done if the re-introduction of fees is to be stopped and that FEE are taking a more diplomatic approach to their campaign. “It’s becoming clear that that won’t be sufficient to beat the proposal so we’re now arguing within the student movement,” said Mr Murphy. “We’ll be campaigning strongly, holding referendums in different SUs across the country arguing for a mass campaigning approach to defeat fees.”
He also mentioned a proposal to organise a national one-day shut down of all the third-level institutions across the country in conjunction with staff, trade unions and other affected groups. He stressed that FEE itself would not be organising this but would be “arguing within the broader Students’ Union for that to be organised. That would be one of the greater things we’ll be doing over the next while.”