The pro and anti-snub camps plead their case.
Prior to today’s snub of Mary Hanafin at the opening of NUI Maynooth’s new Iontas building, we issued an open invitation for someone from each side of the snubbing debate to explain their argument. First, owing to the fact it was the first side we received, the pro-snub argument:
The SU is spot on with this decision. As a cabinet minister Mary Hanafin shares responsibility for the economic policies that created the property bubble and subsequent economic crisis; for the bank guarantee, the nationalisation of Anglo-Irish Bank (a property developers’ bank that will never lend money to ordinary Irish people) and NAMA, which collectively will cripple this country with debt for generations; and for the savage cuts across the public sector to health, education, social welfare, special needs services, to wages and conditions etc, eroding the basic services needed to maintain a decent quality of life for the ordinary people of Ireland and the protections for the vulnerable – cuts which target the low-paid, rather than the well-off who can afford to pay for the crisis, while the elites in financial institutions recieve billions in taxpayer’s money.
Of particular concern for students are the cuts to third level education. On top of the cuts that we have already experienced, which have hit hard at many on low incomes, the Government is considering increasing the Student Services Charge to €2,500 per student, a further 5% cut to the maintainance grant and potentially the abolition of Student Assistance Fund. These cuts will further damage the quality of our education, and for many will prevent them outright from accessing third level education. Access to education is a right of all human beings. These cuts, while inexcusable in themselves are obscene when one considers the billions of our money which the Government is pumping into propping up failing banks and financial institutions.
Last November, over one thousand students signed a petition in opposition to Bertie Ahern’s appointment as Honourary Professor, which a further 250 students then delivered to the President’s Office. At that time, we made it quite clear that we felt it was inappropriate for the University to honour an individual who was so intimately involved in the attacks on our standards of living and those of our families, and on our right to access Third-level education. Despite this, the University has chosen to invite Mary Hanafin to our campus to open the Iontas building, which again is entirely inappropriate. Thankfully, the Students’ Union has decided not to participate in her publicity event, but instead to protest it, a decision that is most welcome to all of us who oppose the Government’s austerity agenda.
And now, the argument of anti-snubbers:
I am writing to express the opinion of Ógra Fianna Fáil on the event organised by Maynooth Student’s Union to ‘snub’ Minister Mary Hanafin. Whilst we respect the right to express your opinion on registration fees we wish that the SU had chosen a constructive aveune to to express their opinion. The registration fee issue is one that has to be dealt with, in our opinion we feel a cap should be put in place to stop the year in year increase on the registration fee, but in this argument I think students should recognise the fact that with the re-negotiation of the program for government Fianna Fáil brought in a guarantee that fees would not be introduced. Students in Ireland do not have to pay full fees like students in America, Australia, the UK and several other countries, we have the current government to thank for that.
Ex Minister for Education Mary Hanafin is not only a graduate of NUI Maynooth, she is also the founder of Fianna Fáil on campus, under her reign as Minister for Education and Science she reformed the system of teacher allocations for children with special educational needs, she developed DEIS, a co-ordinated system of supports for pupils in primary and post primary schools who are socially and economically disadvantaged many people owe their place in college to her and this change will affect change people’s lives for years to come. She also reformed the entry system for those who wish to study medicine, she also established Dáil na nOg to listen to the voice of the younger people. She was also the first Minister for Education to begin trying to implement a centralised grant system, this however was stalled upon her leaving her department, however she has assured us that she will still be working on this.
Why have the NUIM SU not considered sitting down with the Minister, to which they hold their grievances with, the Maynooth branch would help to do all they can to faciliate such a meeting and are more than willing to do so when the SU are willing to commit to solving the issues as opposed to creating bad media opportunites in the press and dragging down the reputation of this fine academic institution.
-Seán Lemass Cumann
– Compiled by Dave Ryan
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