Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has described as ‘shameful’ the attempts by the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn in the Dáil today to justify his broken promises on third level fees.
In response to questions from Deputy McConalogue today, Minister Quinn denied that he has misled students and claimed that the promises he made to students were made in his capacity as an opposition Spokesperson on Education and not as a potential Minister for Education.
He told the Dáil, “I signed the pledge on behalf of the Labour Party as the party’s spokesperson on education during the campaign for the last general election. That pledge and that commitment did not make it into the programme for Government that was negotiated between my party and Fine Gael. As Minister for Education and Skills, I have a responsibility to implement the programme for Government, and that is what I am doing.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “Students simply won’t buy these feeble excuses. Whatever way Minister Quinn tries to spin it, the bottom line is that he misled students about his intentions and he did so in the full knowledge of the budgetary situation
“Just days before the election campaign last year the Minister participated in a photo-call with the USI, promising that there would be no increase in student registration fees on his watch. He did not in any way qualify these promises but just promised the sun, moon and stars. He said it would be no problem under the Labour Party. He told students that if he were Minister for Education and Skills, not only would there be no increase in student registration fees but he would undo the increases that had already occurred.
“Yet now, in government, he has the audacity to come into the Chamber and say the paper he signed counted for nothing. He did not tell that to the students before the election; he promised them whatever it would take in order for him to get their vote. What the Minister should do now is to stand by his own principles. As Minister for Education and Skills, he should stick to his promises and not increase the registration fee this year.”