University teachers stand by students in the face of Garda attacks

Date:

In an important gesture of solidarity in the face of media attacks on student protesters and the attempts by the USI student union leadership to undermine effective protest university teachers who are members of the National University of Ireland Maynooth IFUT Branch Committee sent the letter below to NUI Maynooth Student Union President congratulating the students on demonstrating in defense of Irish education and expressing grave concern at the Garda attack on the studnents that took place on the Wednesday November the 3rd.

 

Letter to NUI Maynooth Student Union from members of the NUIM IFUT Branch Committee
November 9th 2010

Dear Aengus,

We are writing to you in order to express our solidarity with Maynooth students in the aftermath of the events of Wednesday last, November 3rd. The national student demonstration against fees in Dublin was a genuinely impressive and heartening occasion. Tens of thousands of students were successfully mobilised in opposition to one of the many pernicious policies being assembled by this discredited government. The response from the student body in Maynooth was particularly impressive. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Students’ Union on all the hard work that went into ensuring that Maynooth students were such a noticeable presence on the demonstration. As both academics and trade unionists, we share with the student movement a profound concern about the direction of government policy in the university sector. In particular, we would echo your misgivings about the impact of increased fees on students from less affluent backgrounds.

While some aspects of the national demonstration offered grounds for optimism, others were more unsettling. In particular, we would like to express our profound concern at the manner in which the Gardai conducted themselves during the events that unfolded at the Department of Finance. Those of us who were present witnessed first-hand a response to the demonstration on the part of the police that was excessive, indiscriminate and downright dangerous. The violence that the Gardai directed at demonstrators in the vicinity of the Department of Finance deserves to be loudly and explicitly condemned by those who hold office within the national student movement. Given that many of the demonstrators outside the Department of Finance were verbally and, more importantly, physically assaulted by police officers, it might reasonably have been expected that the conduct of the Gardai would have been condemned by the President of the Unions of Students in Ireland. Rather than criticise the actions of those who attacked the student demonstrators, the President of USI chose instead to condemn those of his own members who had attempted to occupy the Department of Finance. In our view, his comments on Wednesday last represent a shameful betrayal of those whom he was elected to serve and represent.

In sum, we wish to congratulate the Maynooth Students’ Union on its magnificent mobilisation in support of the national demonstration and to extend our solidarity to those students who were injured in the attempted occupation of the Department of Finance. We appreciate your efforts to generate better relations with the other unions on campus and hope that we will continue to work well with one another in the future.

With Best Wishes,

Dr Colin Coulter, Department of Sociology, Vice Chairperson of the Maynooth branch of IFUT
Dr Colmán Etchingham, Department of History, Chairperson of the Maynooth branch of IFUT

Professor Joe Cleary, Department of English
Dr Brid Connolly, Department of Adult and Community Education
Dr Aileen O’Carroll, Irish Qualitative Data Archive
Dr Éamon Ó Ciosáin, Department of French
Dr Gavan Titley, Department of Media Studies
(Members of the Maynooth Branch Committee of IFUT)  

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