Labour Youth have called on the Labour Party to honour their pre-election pledge and ensure there is “no further financial hardship on students.”

Conor Ryan, the Chair of the youth wing of the Labour Party told the College Tribune that the organization is supporting the USI’s “Stop Fees” campaign, adding “there is a need for a coordinated campaign here and Labour Youth have a part to play in it.”

Ryan explained how Labour Youth have been lobbying Labour TDs over the past number of weeks. “We have been putting forward our position over and over again.”

 He added, “we have been told that there are several back benchers putting the pressure on and we do have several, who I cannot identify, who have said they are on our side in this. We have been using that to get up the ladder to ministerial level meetings.”

On the difference between the position of Labour Youth and the likely actions of the Labour Party in government Ryan, a UCD student, said “The government is in a very difficult position and we understand that, however the way we see it is that we are following Labour’s mandate and we are following Labour’s policy position on the issue.”

“The fact that Labour is in government and the fact that there is a Labour Minister for Education doesn’t change what we believe in the issue.”

 Between 80 and 100 members of Labour Youth are expected to march together as part of the USI’s city centre demonstration this Wednesday.

Ryan pointed out that Labour Youth are willing to work with Students’ Unions to battle an increase in the student contribution and the reintroduction of third level fees. “Where we can help the anti-fees movement and our unique selling point is our access. No youth wing has access like Labour Youth does. I would say to the Students’ Union, use us. Use our access, use our contacts.”

The USI’s campaign has been particularly focused on the Labour Party, responding to this Ryan said, “USI have to do what the USI have to do”

“I don’t think that the position that certain Students’ Unions movements have taken with regards to the Labour party has been productive to the extent that I would question the €5,000 figure because I believe that it came about as part of faulty research.”

“I don’t believe that taking an aggressive role is helpful to the anti-fees movement as it turns back-benchers against the student movement especially when it is on the false premise of €5,000. If they see that they will say ‘okay the student movement are willing to attack us no matter what we do because they have already proven that they are willing to attack us over a speculative article what is the point of talking to these people?'”

Ryan said that although it is a somewhat difficult time to be a student and a member of the Labour Party there are still some advantages, “we haven’t had this much influence in a very long time. We have direct contact with ministerial staff for example.”

Asked why he believed Ruairi Quinn signed the pledge in the first place Ryan said “I think that he signed the pledge based on the information that he had at the time and that he signed the pledge not as the Minister of Education but as the Labour party spokesperson for education. Of course we are in coalition with a right wing party at the moment, whether we would have been able to ring fence it if we were the senior party that is for speculative discussion. The fact of it is that we are the junior coalition partner and we have to deal with the cards that we are dealt.”

Read the College Tribune’s interview with Labour Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, published in our print edition this week >>>>

 Donie O’Sullivan