[Sinn Fein]

28th January 2003

Crowe Backs Student Protest and Demands

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Education, Seán Crowe, has backed the planned student National Day of Action set for the 5th of February saying that when students take to the streets on the 5th they will do so with the full support of Sinn Fein.

The Dublin South-West TD said: "In tandem with this government's threatening behaviour in regard to the possible reintroduction of fees we have seen an increase in the militancy and profile of the Irish students movement which is to be warmly welcomed.

"The introduction of free fees was not the solution the government of the day represented it as. It has done little for many of the young people attempting to enter university from some of the poorest parts of this state, while making it easier for some. But it was a step in the right direction. It was a move towards a fair and open system of education. It cannot be expected to be the sole solution to tackling inequality in Irish education.

"We need massive increases in state support for students to bring the grant in line with social welfare levels and we need purpose built and state funded student accommodation to tackle the ongoing student accommodation crisis. These are all problems that were identified years ago and about which the government has done little.

"Students are expected to live on the poverty line while this government refuses point blank to consider a fairer taxation system and a more just redistribution of wealth. When students take to the streets on the 5th they will do so with the full support of Sinn Fein and, I am sure, the support of hundreds of thousands of people across the state who support the development of a fair and inclusive education system."

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