Student anti-cuts group Free Education for Everyone (FEE) has slammed Clare County Council for demanding that an Ennis woman provide proof of payment of the household charge before they release her college grant. The woman, an activist with the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes, is a tenant and not personally liable for the charge, but the letter has raised widespread fears that the government may abuse the student grant scheme, using it to coerce householders into paying the charge.
FEE activist Gerard Spencer said: ‘With the disastrous austerity programme of the IMF provoking the largest civil disobedience movement in Irish history, the increasingly incoherent attempts of the government to intimidate household tax non-payers have reached a new vile low. Following Brian Hayes’s shameful and pathetic attack on those in Third Level who receive the maintenance grant, it is clear that this government sees the student body as a prime target for its insane austerity agenda. The student grant is a lifeline for countless students, allowing them to access the social good of a Third Level education; it is too important to be used as a petty attempt at blackmail by gombeen politicians.’
Free Education For Everyone is a nationwide grassroots campaign dedicated to fighting cutbacks to all levels of the education system as part of the wider campaign against austerity and the policies of the Troika. Recent actions by the group include participation in the protests at the Labour Party conference in NUI Galway last April and the occupation of FG Deputy Eoghan Murphy’s office in Ranelagh, Dublin, last December. It endorses the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes, believing that all anti-austerity groups must unite if the government’s agenda is to be defeated, and plans to work with the campaign to reverse this disgusting attack on students.