Students demand meeting with ministers at occupation of Department of Public Expenditure

Gardaí arrived at the department as students demanded their letter be delivered to the government

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) members were among several students’ unions at an occupation of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform today.

The National Students Action Group (NSAG) had initially planned to protest at the Department of Finance, but instead protested at the Public Expenditure office on Merrion Row.

Roughly 20 entered the lobby with posters and began chanting “Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, out, out, out”.

The NSAG demanded to meet with and deliver a letter to either Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe or Finance Minister Michael McGrath detailing their condemnation of the parties and their demands for improving higher education.

“Abolish tuition fees and move to a fully free education system, seize vacant ousting, restore [the] eviction ban and rent controls to affordability”, they wrote.

“End precarity in universities, both in academic and professional workers including PGRs [Postgraduate researchers].”

Photo by Rory Chinn for Trinity News

TCDSU President László Molnárfi told Trinity News either minister or the “highest public servant” must “address students in a public forum”.

“We are in a public forum, we are in a public institution and we would like to hear from our public servants on why no progress has been made in the students’ cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

Molnárfi claimed the principal advisor to Donohoe did not want to “meet students in a public space” and “doesn’t want cameras”.

“The government should communicate directly and transparently with students,” he said.

Photo by Jimena Álvarez for Trinity News

Video footage shows one member of staff attempting to pull a protester out of the lobby before they were pushed away by another protester.

The footage also shows another member of the department taking a megaphone from protestors.

Gardaí arrived at the scene shortly after the protesters and entered the department, but did not appear to escalate.

Photo by Jimena Álvarez for Trinity News

University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) President-elect Miranda Bauer told Trinity News that collaborating with other students’ unions “is crucial”.

Photo by Neasa Nic Corcráin for Trinity News

“We have been trying to lobby, we have been trying to be very amicable with the government,” she said.

“Our simple demands that would mean that students are not locked out of education anymore are just not being met, so direct action has to be taken.”

Additional reporting by Rory Chinn, Neasa Nic Corcráin and Jimena Álvarez.

Ellen Kenny

Ellen Kenny is the current Deputy Editor of Trinity News and a Senior Sophister student of Politics and Sociology. She previously served as Assistant Editor and Features Editor