On Wednesday November 7th, a public meeting for UCD and IADT students was held in Stillorgan Park Hotel for the Gilmore’s 250 campaign. The campaign focuses on the government’s plan to increase fees by €250 each year for the next three years.
The meeting was not well attended. UCDSU Campaigns and Communications Officer Paddy Guiney says: “The meeting wasn’t well attended by students; there were county councillors, members of staff, community members. My main aim is to put people on the streets for November 19th. Nothing will be 100% successful. If there are 1,000 people at the meeting or two, we’d still be putting them same amount of pressure into the campaign.”
UCDSU President Rachel Breslin says she did not expect a larger turn out at the meeting because “from UCD’s experience, it’s not something that students hugely engage in,” but she doesn’t believe that the low turnout will translate to a poor turnout at the demonstration on November 19th.
“I think that we certainly had the same worries [about low turnout] last year for different meetings and for all sorts of things. Someone said to me afterwards: ‘Why would I want to go to a meeting?’ There is a great difference between a meeting and a protest and our focus has been, and will continue to be the protest, because that is what our objective of this campaign is: to get students out onto the street protesting,” says Breslin
The meeting had a handful of TDs in attendance, however Breslin says she was unhappy with the lack of political presence. “The TDs in Dublin South have been very unresponsive, especially Eamon Gilmore himself. We would have liked more TDs to have been there but their complete disregard for the student movement was shown in the fact that they did not show,” she explains.
The meetings focus was on the effects that such an increase will have on students and their education. IADT SU President Marie Farrell was worried about how the increase will affect students who are struggling at present with fees: “The severe financial pressure that students across the country are under is phenomenal. We have students in our office everyday crying, worried, not having a clue what to do because they have to make the choice between getting a bus ticket or eating for the week.”
When asked about the objective of the Gilmore’s 250 campaign, Breslin says they want to put “continued pressure on Eamon Gilmore until he resigns. These promises were made with full knowledge of the economic situation and the realities and they were blatantly disregarded without any sort of apology and there is this continued lack of interest and lack of awareness of what students are going through.”