Gardaí intervene in TCDSU protest at Higher Education Department

Approximately 20 students, including TCDSU and USI members, assembled in Front Square and moved to the department building, briefly occupying the entrance

Gardaí intervened in a protest led by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) after a small group briefly entered the Department of Further and Higher Education.

The protest announced by TCDSU earlier this week and supported by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) demanded College and State investment in counselling services, housing, and general funding for student facilities.

Protestors also called for the abolition of all tuition fees and precarious working conditions for academic staff and postgraduate students.

Approximately 20 students assembled in Front Square at 11:11am this morning, beginning with speeches from the steps of the Dining Hall.

The group then proceeded to the Department of Higher Education on St Stephen’s Green.

After arriving, a number of students briefly occupied the foyer of the building before being removed by Gardaí.

Gardaí then blocked the entrance of the building while protestors sat down on the steps of the department building.

Two other Garda vans arrived on scene, one of which quickly left.

TCDSU President László Molnárfi said that the government has done “undeniable harm to our communities”, adding that this was “not by accident, or by incompetence”.

“The system is working exactly as it is intended to,” he said.

“They follow a neoliberal capitalist economic policy, and represent big capital, vulture funds and corporations – not the people, our communities, and workers.”

“Their policies have seen homelessness grow to unprecedented levels during their time in government, a failing healthcare system, a housing crisis, inaccessible education, and the suffering of so many people,” Molnárfi continued.

Molnárfi went on to say that the “time for respectability, lobbying and sitting down with the Ministers for a cup of coffee is over”, calling for the removal of the government at the forthcoming general election.

TCDSU also delivered a letter to the department containing the list of demands, including a 1000:1 student to counsellor ratio in College Health and state investment in the field of counselling supports; housing measures including the seizure of vacant property and the restoration of the ban on evictions; and a call to “democratise the university and bring it under student and staff control”.

In the letter, the union said it had been “grappling with the outcomes of austerity policies forced on us by the government for far too long”.

The right to education and open research “has been seen as secondary to the profit motive”, the letter continues.

“We are organising because we are tired of the government taking the easy path. We can no longer afford to be quiet about the terrible conditions currently impacting students and staff that are breaking the futures of Ireland’s youth; so we are speaking out.”

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris is currently in Washington DC.

Additional reporting by Ellen Kenny and Gabriela Gazaniga.

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly

Evan Skidmore O’Reilly is News Co-Editor for the 70th volume of Trinity News. He is a former Deputy News Editor, and is a current final year Business and Politics student.