Up to 1,000 students joined our breakaway at Kildare Street, staging a short sit down protest outside the home of the corrupt and unaccountable political establishment of this state. Recognising the futility of marching from A to B and listening to the same speeches from aspiring politicians, many of these students joined us in marching to the Department of Finance where a sit in demonstration was held. It is the Department of Finance which is attacking ordinary working people with such vigour in recent times, and this occupation was symbolic of the anger of students and the Irish public.
We are not the “anti- social, hooligan element of the student movement”, rather today we showed that we are perfectly in touch with the anger felt by the student body. The sight of thousands of students outside, cheering on the direct action showed the positive effect such direct action can have on the Irish student movement. Such actions, we believe, are a necessary step forward. This government wish to attack education, public services and working people and this must be resisted.
There was no act of violence carried out by those protesting at the Department, and any violence outside was instigated by the inept response of the Gardai. Students sitting on the road in protest were baton charged repeatedly by Gardaí, with many suffering injuries. One female student was knocked unconscious during the assault on the crowd, and other students clearly displayed head injuries. “The Gardaí rushed the crowd on numerous occasions, including spectators on the street. The crowd, which at this point had swelled up to 2,000 students with many from the main demonstration joining us, vented their anger at the response of the Gardaí who had begun encircling them”, said Lorcan Myles, a Free Education for Everyone activist who witnessed the events. We make no apologies for the direct action taken.
Ultimately, events like today’s will happen in a society where people are under constant attack from the political establishment. The arrests and attacks carried out on students today will not deter the movement.
Free Education for Everyone and The Students In Solidarity Network are independent student grassroots campaigns active in numerous Irish third level institutions. Previous protests have included resisting the appointment of Bertie Ahern T.D by NUI Maynooth as an Honorary Professor, opposing numerous TD’s visits to various campuses including Belfield and NUI Galway and building broad student support for a left wing and grassroots student movement.