The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are holding a national rally for education on 8th October (today) to highlight the group’s pre-budget submission, ahead of Budget 2015 which will be announced on Tuesday 14th October.
On the significance of this rally and the group’s pre-budget submission USI President, Laura Harmon told the University Observer ‘This is the first national pre-budget demonstration in three years.’ This march also marks the first time the USI has had organisation such as SIPTU, IFUT and the TUI supporting its cause and joining them on the march.
Harmon explains that the rally will ‘highlight our pre-budget aims to protect student supports and our belief that education is a public good.’ The rally itself will also be used to highlight the positive contributions that students have to make to society as a whole.
Ahead of the rally, set to take place this Wednesday, the USI sent UCDSU an invitation to take part in the rally alongside them, despite the fact UCD voted to leave the USI last year. The referendum held in UCD last February saw 64.5% of voters vote in favour of ending UCDSU’s membership of the USI.
Explaining the reason behind inviting non-affiliated students Harmon says ‘I felt as a measure of good will to non-affiliated students, it would be good to extend an invitation. I brought a motion to our national meeting and it passed so I issued the invite. Many non-affiliates will be joining us on the day.’
This point was elaborated on by UCDSU President, Feargal Hynes, in a statement to the University Observer in which he said ‘The invitation came as part of talks between Laura and myself earlier in the year and it was agreed that where there was an event where we shared the same end goal, that we would consider working together on it.’
However following a meeting of the UCDSU Executives last week, the decision was made not to take part in the rally. Hynes explains that he brought the invitation to the group and ‘ we voted not to participate and to focus on our aim at the start of the year to build our presence on campus and to concentrate on re-engaging students in Belfield.’ He added that UCDSU will be working alongside USI in the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum.
The rally, which will see students from around the country marching from the Garden of Remembrance to Molesworth Street, opposite the Houses of the Oireachtas, has taken on a distinctively creative theme this year. The event will see preformances by Temper-Mental Miss Elayneous and breakout Irish band, The Original Rude Boys. Commenting on the creative direction the rally has taken and the presence of The Original Rude Boys at the event Harmon says ‘They were students themselves in NCI and they believe in the messages of our campaign. We have a taken a more creative approach to the campaign this year and it’s great to have such talented artists in board.’
In the groups pre-budget supmission it has lobbied public representatives on the protection of the student maintenance grant and also the Back to Education allowance.It also highlights the decrease in the Student Assistance Fund and the student accommodation issue as areas of concern. ‘We are also calling for the return of the €25million to overall HEI funding that was withheld in Budget 2013 and 2014’ explains Harmon who will be meeting with Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’ Sullivan, again the day after the Budget.