In the run up to the USI march next week, Shane McNally gives his impressions on the recent Prime Time debate between USI president Gary Redmond and minister for education Ho Chi Quinn.
Prime Time hosted a ‘debate’ on the issue of the re-introduction of fees yesterday evening. The combatants arrived, a surly looking Ruarí Quinn and a jittery Gary Redmond (you’ll know what I mean if you were watching it).
Initially the questions were directed at the Minister as to whether there would be a re-introduction of fees and what form they would take. The Minister was extremely reticent and would not rule anything out saying ‘circumstances have changed’, while also saying that he wanted to afford everyone the opportunity to pursue a third level education. After a torrent of questions from RTE’s Richard Crowley this was the most that Ruarí Quinn would say on the matter of the re-introduction of fees. The silence from Redmond at this point was deafening.
When Redmond eventually did speak it was to utter the sound bites we have heard from USI up until this point about broken promises and to say the word ‘certainly’ so many times nobody seemed to be certain of anything anymore. The tide began to turn a little as Redmond made a good point that we are already the second most expensive country in Europe in terms of ‘fees’.
However the Redmond spring was short lived and Quinn then put the debate to bed stating that the country simply cannot afford to pay at the current levels to the education system. Redmond’s response was weak and did little to deter the minister in his thinking.
Anyone looking at the debate would have perhaps witnessed a stalemate that may or may not see developments in the coming weeks. If the final words of the debate are anything to go by students and their families should be very worried. The President of USI, instead of inspiring by telling the minister students will not accept the cuts that they and their families are suffering, stated that students will not accept anything above €2000 in fees.
Redmond seems content to keep the current registration fee and this was made clear as USI initially had their campaign named ‘Freeze the Fees’. With the cuts in the grant and this colossal ‘registration fee’, the student body is crying out for a leader that will challenge this government and cumulative policies that are preventing the most vulnerable in society from getting a higher education. If Prime Time is anything to go by, Redmond is not it.
[If you missed the Prime Time program, here is the link. Should be about 17 minutes in.]
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