[Sinn Fein]

20th August 2002

Government elected on back of blatant lies

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Science and Education, Seán Crowe TD has accused the government of getting elected on the back of blatant lies about the economy and said that they are now trying to use the summer months to push through major cutbacks in health and education.

Deputy Crowe said: ``This government got elected promising an end to inequality and within weeks have engaged in a complete u-turn on the economy. Over a number of weeks we have seen the devastating impact of this fraud on third level education. First we had the announcement of a 69% increase in capitation fees and now it seems that university fees are likely to be re-introduced. It is said that this is to happen because the abolition of fees did nothing to broaden access to third-level. This is a smokescreen and an insult to those who have been effectively excluded from third level for so long.

``The abolition of university fees, by itself, was never going to help the children of the least well off to get into college because the education system continues to mirror and maintain social division and exclusion. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are still extremely unlikely to reach university and are more likely to leave school early.

``However the prohibitive costs of going to college are also a very real barrier and the low level of the student maintenance grant, the massive increase in capitation fees and the re-introduction of fees will make that situation even more difficult for many families.''

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