- Feb 24, 2005
The following is a description of events from members of the 32CSM who took part in the Student's Protest in Dublin.
Dublin 32CSMThe 32csm in Dublin would like to congratulate all the students and activists who joined in the protest on November 3rd against the increase in registration fees. The 32csm were involved in the last campaign to oppose the introduction of fees and we have continuously lent support to students. The march on Wednesday was to show not only the anger that exists amongst students, already struggling in many cases to make ends meet, but also the frustration amongst activists with their representatives in the USI.
Our members joined the independent left wing bloc at the invite of Free Education for Everyone and Students in Solidarity. These students felt like us that a march without action would achieve little and that self serving speeches made by USI representatives with close links to Fianna Fail were not the true voice of the student movement. It was because of this discontent that students bravely broke away in large numbers from the main march to march to the gates of Leinster House to express their anger. The 32csm, eirigi, and the SWP amongst others joined the Students in Solidarity rather than in any attempt to hijack the protest. The reality is that the independent student bloc was organised by and for students who wished to have their voices heard.
Given that the 32csm Dublin branch has several members in third level education it was imperative for us to support such actions. The march then moved onto the Department of Finance where a large group of protestors including ten members of the 32csm managed to break through garda lines and occupied the building. At no point during the occupation did any official from either the department or the gardai approach the students to ask them what their grievances were. Instead the gardai aggressively manhandled protestors both inside and outside until the riot squad showed up. At that point protestors were thrown from the building whilst the gardai punched and kicked them. 32csm members fought back along with our republican and left wing comrades and the solidarity shown in the face of garda brutality was an example that should be followed in the future.
We would like to make clear however that the violence that did occur was initiated by the gardai who attacked a peaceful sit down protest with batons, before charging on horseback into the middle of a crowd of students, many of whom were already injured from earlier garda attacks. Responsibility for the violence lies with the gardai and with USI who by their lack of support for the action ensured that students would not have sufficient numbers to withstand the attacks.
The 32csm opposes the proposed increase in registration fees because we recognize that this is merely third level fees being introduced by stealth; we oppose it because it is another attack by this government on the vulnerable whilst the rich are protected. The neo liberal agenda that is behind such moves will be fought at every turn by the 32csm and we will not be dissuaded by any number of garda batons or media distortions. victory to the students and workers!