Hurricane Lorenzo forces cancellation of Break the Barriers demonstration

The hurricane is expected to hit Ireland on the day of the demonstration

A demonstration against barriers to higher education set to take place this week has been called off in response to the onset of Hurricane Lorenzo which is expected to bring heavy rain and winds to Ireland from midday on Thursday.

The Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) announced this afternoon that the demonstration would no longer take place on October 3 due to the “dangerous threat” posed by the hurricane, particularly for students travelling to and from the event.

USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick explained that it was with a “heavy heart” that the organisation decided to alter plans for the demonstration. “The core values of the national student movement is to protect and defend all 374,000 students that we represent, and we refuse to take any unnecessary risk when there is such a dangerous potential weather forecast ahead,” she said.

The demonstration was intended to mark the first action of USI’s year-long Break the Barriers campaign, which seeks to highlight obstacles to higher education such as high tuition fees, high rents, and unsuitable grant systems.

A cohort of Trinity students led by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) were set to participate in the demonstration, with a plan to gather in Front Square before marching from the Garden of Remembrance to Merrion Square South.

“While the weather warnings are unclear, we cannot risk students from the far west or south being able to get home Thursday evening as Met Eireann reports the hurricane is likely to hit at 12pm on Thursday,” Fitzpatrick continued. “Likewise, we are a National Organisation, and we will not hold a national demonstration without all of our members being afforded the opportunity to attend and have their voices heard.”

“This campaign was never intended to be a once off day of action, Break the Barriers is a year long campaign and no weather warning will derail the student movement from our objectives,” Fitzpatrick stated.

The demonstration would have featured speeches from Fitzpatrick, Coalition for Publicly Funded Education Chair Kevin Donohue, Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) President Ciara Fanning, and students impacted by barriers to education.

Met Éireann has forecasted that on Thursday, when the demonstration was set to take place, the country may be hit by rain, high seas, and strong winds at a risk of becoming severe winds later on Thursday night depending on the track of the hurricane.

The National Emergency Co-Ordination Group has met this afternoon from 4pm, with an update from the meeting anticipated later in the evening.

Last year, USI broke tradition in its annual October march against fees with a demonstration targeting the housing crisis, drawing a crowd of 3,000 to demand affordable student accommodation and government action to solve the housing crisis.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.