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15 October 2009 Edition

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Greens must give guarantee on registration fees - Doherty

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Pearse Doherty

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Pearse Doherty

Welcoming the commitment in the new Programme for Government not to introduce third level fees, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Senator Pearse Doherty has challenged Green Party leader John Gormley to guarantee that his party will not support further increases in the registration fee  – third level fees by stealth.
“I welcome the commitment in the revised Programme for Government to cease plans on introducing third level fees; however students and families must have a guarantee that they will not be punished for this by being forced to pay an even higher registration fee. That, in my opinion amounts to nothing more than third level fees by stealth.
“Budget 09 saw an increase in the third level registration fee from €900 to €1,500 a year. This is itself was a regressive measure and has meant hardship for less well off families. Any move to increase this fee further would place added pressure on families struggling to make ends meet.
“Going to college is not cheap. The cost of accommodation, transport, course materials and food alone present major barriers to students from disadvantaged areas attending third level colleges. More increases in the registration fee would act as a further barrier to participation in third level education.
“Sinn Féin remains strongly opposed to third level fees, believing that education is a fundamental right and could and should be funded through fair direct taxation.
“The promise not to introduce third level fees is good but not good enough. The Greens must ensure that there will be no further increases in the student registration fee and that access to third level education rests solely on the students’ potential rather than their ability to pay.
“Overall this is a bad programme for Government by a bad and discredited Government. The programme is full of vague generalities and is easily picked apart and, given both Fianna Fáil and the Green Party’s previous record on programmes for Government, there is no reason to believe that anything positive will be delivered on the back of this one.
“The Green Party should have taken this opportunity to bring down this discredited Government in order to pull the plug on NAMA and the McCarthy report.”
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