03 November 2010

Showin' how funky and strong is your fight

Speaking of loving a good march, and despite being out of college for considerably more years now than I was ever in it, I snuck out of the house for a few hours today to wander down for the fun and frolics that was today's USI march on the Dail. Ostensibly the protest was over speculated increases to third-level fees and changes to the current means-tested maintenance grants system operated by local authorities, but at its heart was genuine concern over continued attacks on education funding in general by the current Government.

Reports put the turnout at anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000 students, which would make it the largest student march in years. As the head of the march looped past Holles Street Hospital and around Merrion Square the tail was still at College Green, and for most of its length marshals from USI and individual colleges seemed to keep things in pretty good order.

It was a true mark of globalisation that many of the placards mocked Tea Party misspellings, and more than a few "Careful Now"s and "Down With This Sort of Thing"s were well in evidence.

Reports coming in towards the end of the event suggest that a number of protesters occupied the Department of Finance leading to a violent response from the Gardai, but for the time I was there everything was far more light-hearted and carnival like.

This sort of march, with these sort of numbers, is great in isolation, but how much better would it be to see these students out marching arm in arm with public and private sector unions like we witnessed over the last week or two in France?

On the evidence of public activism during last week alone, December's budget is shaping up to be a very interesting time indeed.

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