Tensions were high at Students’ Union Council on October 19th last as SU President Paul Lynam and surprise speaker Senator David Norris were engaged in a verbal battle over the issue of third level fees.
Senator Norris was invited to give a short speech at SU Council as a ballot for the election of a Sports Officer was underway.
Senator Norris, a potential candidate for the presidency of Ireland, said of the issue of third level fees: “I think it’s inevitable and I think it’s also fair.”
Mr Lynam stood up to address Senator Norris, speaking of his perception of the unfairness of the introduction of third level fees given the high level of graduate tax currently being paid: “It is the graduates and students of this university, and colleges across this university, will have to pay the debt that this government and these politicians have left behind. We will do so because we pay 78% more in tax than people who don’t go to third level education.”
Lynam also spoke of the high wage being earned by politicians, which was not disputed by Senator Norris, who admitted: “With regard to being overly paid, yes, that’s possibly true.”
Additionally, Senator Norris did not dispute Lynams’ claim that the student registration fee is a form of third level fees: “You mention the registration fee. That’s not disguised as fees, but that is a fee. €1,500.”
Lynam said of Senator Norris’ suggestion of the necessity to means test fees: “Means testing fees will never work. Means testing has never worked and I’ve never heard you talking about means testing pensions.”
Senator Norris said of Lynam: “I don’t agree with this man, but you have a leader there.” Further, he said Lynam’s endorsement of the November 3rd protest that is due to take place this week: “I’m not in favour of pandering to a movement unless I’m fully convinced of it. You haven’t quite done that.”
In light of the protest this week, Lynam said: “November 3rd will be the beginning of when the students fight back. I promise you, fees will not be introduced without a fight.”
Senator Norris addressed the Council as a whole before departing, saying: “I’ve always taken unpopular decisions, and I still got elected. I certainly am running for the presidency and I hope to get your support whatever I say about the fees.”