On October 4, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) hosted a protest in Dublin City Centre. The protest, named the ‘It’s Raining Now!’ protest, saw students and students’ unions from across the country come together to demand 5% of the government’s €65 billion budget surpluses or ‘rainy day fund’.
Students assembled at the Garden of Remembrance at 12 pm and marched from there to Merrion Square South holding placards and umbrellas to tell the government that ‘It’s raining now for students’. The USI had nine key points that they wanted the government to address ahead of the budget.
The USI wanted emergency student accommodation for the first six weeks of the year, 30,000 new student beds, the abolition of the student contribution charge with a €2000 reduction this year, to reduce the ratio of mental health counselors to students to 1:1000, and free public transport for students.
They also demanded SUSI reform measures to ensure equality of access to third-level, funding for each college to provide t-funds for students, €25,000 postgraduate stipend and adequate working conditions for postgraduate researchers, a period of rest for student teachers at the Gaeltacht and finally, a rent freeze and reinstatement of the ban on no-fault evictions.
Despite not being members of USI, UCDSU came to support the protest. The College Tribune spoke to UCDSU Campaigns and Engagement Officer, Miranda Bauer, to ask why their presence at the demonstration was important.
Miranda said “This is a massive issue” and “We are all students and we are protesting for the same reasons.” Bauer continued, “One of the main issues we deal with constantly is students struggling with the cost of living and we believe that if we are not here then the government will not hear us or consider us in the upcoming budget.”
Before the march began the College Tribune spoke to USI President, Chris Clifford, to ask why it was important to gather students together ahead of the budget. Chris said, “we are here to get the student voice heard, students’ unions across the country have different stories but they all have similar stories as well, every students’ union has dealt with students who are struggling.”
Chris continued by saying that while all the key points were important, the student accommodation crisis was a priority as “if you don’t have anyone in student accommodation, you don’t have anyone going to college and that’s a major barrier to education.” Chris concluded by saying that he hoped the protest would make “the government listen to us, take their hands out of their pockets, and give this money to students.”
Emma Hanrahan – Co-Editor