United in anger over our students’ future
Thousands of people gathered in Belfast to protest against proposed increases to student tuition fees and cuts to higher education funding.
At 1.30pm yesterday concerned parents, students, lecturers and others marched from Botanic Gardens in south Belfast to Belfast City Hall.
A statement from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions about murdered police officer Ronan Kerr, read at a peace rally earlier in the day, was relayed to protesters before they set off on their march.
Gareth McGreevy, president of Queen’s Student Union, said his thoughts were with the Kerr family. “Across the board people stand side by side to remember Constable Kerr.
“This has been an attack on the peace process and the future of everyone.”
Mr McGreevy said there needs to be more investment in our shared future and the value higher education brings to society should not be underestimated.
“Cuts are an attack on higher education and the future of the economy in Northern Ireland.
“The programme of government talks about a knowledgeable workforce, but more people are considering emigrating.
“Our future leaders are being transported out of Northern Ireland to the rest of Europe.
“We should be widening participation and this is not just about fees rises.
“Course costs, field trips, and course materials are being hit as well.
“When STEM subjects are favoured over others it sends a
very negative message. Music, culture and arts should not be viewed as less valuable than biology, chemistry and physics.
“I couldn’t imagine a Northern Ireland without any of these things.”
NUS-USI President, Ciarnan Helferty, said: “We won’t stand by quietly while people cut and mortgage futures away.
“Sadly the events of the weekend means the march has taken on another dimension.
“We have marched today with once voice. Murderous animals will not tell us the type of society we are going to have
“We are marching in solidarity with everyone else in Northern Ireland for peace and for Ronan and his family.”