The Dáil will debate a Fianna Fáil motion this week calling on the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to keep his promises to students, protect funding for frontline education services and to take responsibility for the deepening crisis in the new centralised grant processing system, SUSI.
The Motion, tabled by the party’s Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue, calls on Minister Quinn to immediately address the failures with SUSI, which have left almost 50,000 students still waiting for their grant applications to be processed. Deputy McConalogue has said the system is riddled with problems and it is up to Minister Quinn to provide the necessary resources to tackle the backlog.
Deputy McConalogue said, “Minister Quinn was quick to bask in praise when SUSI was established and he is now equally quick to blame everyone else, including the students themselves, for the massive delays his system is creating. This is typical of an emerging trend in this Government’s behaviour, and particularly within the Labour Party, where instead of taking responsibility, Ministers seek to shift blame onto anyone else. SUSI is Minister Quinn’s responsibility and it is simply not good for him to claim at this stage of the crisis that he ‘doesn’t fully understand’ why it is not working.
“Students and their parents have been abandoned spectacularly by Minister Quinn and his colleagues. Many voters across the country voted for Labour and Fine Gael in the last general election based on their promises not to increase the cost of college. These families are now wondering what has happened to those promises now? They were used by the Minister to achieve power and quickly discarded when he secured it.
“Minister Quinn is essentially reintroducing third level fees through the back door. He already increased the student registration fee by €250 this year and he plans to increase it by a further €750 over the next three years. That’s a massive hike of over €1,000 in the lifetime of this government. He abolished post-graduate grants, thereby putting further education out of the reach of many students who want to up-skill here in Ireland. And for those first-year students who need a grant to get through college, Minister Quinn has failed abysmally to ensure they get this support within a reasonable time frame.
“This week in the Dáil, Labour and Fine Gael TDs have an opportunity to stand by the promises they made to students and families. This Dáil Motion calls on Minister Quinn to stop his sneaky increases in third level fees and stop his covert cuts in student grants. It also calls on the Government to protect a range of critical frontline education services at primary and second level.”