After almost six hours, numerous adjournments and the voting of several other motions concluded, Limerick City and County Council unanimously passed a motion to collectively write to the Minister for Education registering its complete opposition to any increase in college fees, or a student loan scheme.
The motion brought to the agenda by Solidarity Party member, Cllr Cian Prendiville, instead calls on the government to implement the proposals in the Cassell’s Report for fully publicly funded Higher Level Education, as well as a living grant for students.
The report which was published in 2016 suggests that current government funding arrangements aren’t sufficient and a new clear funding strategy needs to be implemented.
Speaking after the vote, Limerick Institute of Technology Students Union President, Phillip Desmond stated, “I’m delighted of course that it was passed and even more so that it was a unanimous decision. We’ve been fighting for the government to act on implementing public funded Higher Education and further grant investment for over twelve months at a local and national level. But that fight is not over yet and we will continue to fight until we win”.
“Education is our future and as a number of councillors commented last night ‘education should be a right not a privilege’. Local government is only a stepping stone, we need our government as a whole to support this campaign before students see the benefit of the work being done for them across the country.”
In scenes described by those in attendance as “farcical,” the decision making was a slow and laborious process taking several ideas to get through various matters on the agenda.
Three adjournments took place in the opening three hours of the meeting, with one thirty-minute interval in particular being used to discuss the amount of time members were allowed speak.
While the pertinent issue of the housing crisis in Limerick, a special sitting has now been scheduled for this Thursday to tackle the problems regarding the matter after a vote was called to decide when the meeting should take place.
LIT’s SU representative, Mr. Desmond, was present at the meeting and described the entire meeting as “chaos.”
“We arrived at 4:15 and sat down in the gallery of the chamber where we watched the proceedings continue until after 9pm when our motion was finally put to the floor,” said Mr. Desmond.
“There was a thirty minute adjournment to discuss time wasting. It has been raised in the past and it should be raised again, County Council meetings should be broadcast for the public similar to the Dáil and Seanad. Don’t get me wrong there are amazing councillors working for us and the people of Limerick, but if the cameras were rolling I think a lot of meetings would play out a lot differently,” he concluded.