The anti-fees campaign group Free Education for Everyone (FEE) held a relaunch meeting in the Student Centre last Wednesday.
The group was previously active in UCD, organising a blockade in 2008 following the arrival of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, who was chairing a function at the Clinton Institute.
FEE began as a small grassroots campaign group who since 2008 they have gained support on a wider scale by forming bases in NUI Maynooth and gaining contacts and activists in various third-level institutions throughout Ireland.
The group’s ultimate aim is to eradicate third-level fees in all third-level institutions.
FEE member Rita Harrold explained to The University Observer why they continue to protest against the current educational system: “We believe that education is a public service and should be easily accessible to every member of the public to be paid for through progressive taxation system.”
Harrold said that FEE were strongly opposed to a means-tested fee system which would “disproportionately affect ordinary lower-class students who wouldn’t be able to afford the fees but would be told by the government that their parents earn too much”.
FEE intend to hold a mass protest outside the Dáil on Budget day, December 7th, and are encouraging students and staff to attend. “We feel it is really important that students get out and show their support and show that they’re opposed to what the government is doing. We’re not willing to pay for the crisis that they created,” said Harrold.
She continued: “People need to get out on the streets in opposition to the Budget and in opposition to the four-year plan and to show a real new way forward that ordinary people will not pay for a crisis they didn’t create and we do have the power to stop it.”
In relation to the development of FEE and the organisation’s intentions for the future, Harrold added: “Two years ago we were a very small group and we were noticed because we were properly opposing fees and I’m sure that we can make an impact now. The only way we can stop what the government and the IMF and EU, UCB in particular are going to be trying to do over the next period is by mass action, opposing what they’re doing on all levels.”