Labour Party spokesperson on Education, Ruairí Quinn, has signed a Union of Students Ireland (USI) pledge not to reintroduce third-level fees, it has been announced.
The pledge was signed on February 21st in the run up to the general election. A spokesperson for the Labour Party explained that the decision to sign the pledge was made because the party believe “that families should not be forced to pay fees to send their children to college”.
USI President Gary Redmond was adamant that “the pledge is a promise and we’ll be holding the Labour Party to account. They signed a promise with the students of Ireland that they won’t increase fees or introduce fees in any way and we’ll keep them to that.”
He added: “We’ve asked every candidate from the five major political parties to sign the pledge.”
However, a Sinn Féin spokesperson told The University Observer that the “head office has no record of being invited to sign the USI pledge”.
USI Eastern Area Officer John Logue insisted that “anybody who had an e-mail address available was contacted and we went to great lengths to ensure that we sought out any means of communication possible, our administration staff spent the best part of two days ensuring that 500 odd e-mails went out.”
The Labour Party’s proposals to decrease the Students Contribution fee from €2,000 to €1,500 on February 17th were met with approval from UCD Students’ Union President, Paul Lynam, who stated that “reversing the €500 increase in registration fee is just the beginning. We are now calling on Labour to make third-level education a priority.”
Lynam added: “Labour and Fine Gael are poles apart when it comes to third-level policies and we must get a firm agreement from Labour not to backtrack on pledges made to students. Students demand a strong government that will fight for their right to third-level education and we now need a firm commitment from Labour that is not just political posturing.”