NI students in London fees protests

Published Wednesday, 10 November 2010
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Students from Northern Ireland have been taking part in the massive protests in central London over tuition fees, which descended into violence at the Tories' headquarters.

A number of police officers were among the injured when demonstrations by up to 50,000 students, lecturers and supporters descended into chaos at Millbank Tower, next to the River Thames.

The march, organised by the National Union of Students and the University and College Union, started off peacefully - moving from Whitehall, past Downing Street and Parliament.

But a group of protestors later smashed their way into the headquarters of the Conservative Party, shattering windows and burning placards.

One student from Belfast, who is a first year at Kingston University, told UTV there was a lot of support for the protestors as proposed cuts would close the door to third-level education on many prospective students.

But amid loud chants of "No ifs, no buts - no education cuts", he added of the violence: "You can never condone it really - I'm against the violence. Peaceful protest, that's what it's about."

We’re doing this to peacefully but strongly let politicians and others hear our voices – that we do not want increases in student fees.

Fiona Kidd, Queen’s University student

Fiona Kidd, from Queen's University, Belfast, also took part in the protests - but condemned the disturbances.

"That is not why Queen's University travelled over 400 miles to get here, it's not why NUS managed to demonstrate the largest student movement in over two decades," she said.

NUS president Aaron Porter said a small minority of protesters had "hijacked" the march and described the violence as "despicable".

His Northern Irish counterpart - NUS-USI President Ciarnan Helferty - has also condemned the violent actions of "rogue protestors".

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt added that the actions of a minority should not distract from the message.

"The overwhelming majority of staff and students on the march came here to send a clear and peaceful message to the politicians," she said.

"The actions of a minority, out of 50,000 people, is regrettable."

The protesters in the Tory HQ building and on the roof released a statement which said: "We oppose all cuts and we stand in solidarity with public sector workers, and all poor, disabled, elderly and working people.

"We are occupying the roof in opposition to the marketisation of education pushed through by the coalition government, and the system they are pushing through of helping the rich and attacking the poor.

"We call for direct action to oppose these cuts. This is only the beginning of the resistance to the destruction of our education system and public services."

© UTV News
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10 Comments
lorna in limavady wrote (1,408 days ago):
What a disgrace ! Millions of pounds worth of damage and to think these people are clever enough to be students that university. Our doctors teachers of tomorrow Did they not use their brains to work out how this behaviour will help the Government change its mind. Its clear to me noone is willing to have these cuts.
Frosty in Here wrote (1,408 days ago):
When I think of the Conservatives, I think of what they are trying to conserve, which is basically an aristocratic state wherein the rich get educated while the poor are kept around to do the menial tasks. We should be making it easier for people to get ahead in life, not trying to drag society down into an elitist one that serves only a few at the expense of the rest. If we're all in this together, then surely we should all be given the same chances?
Ally in Aber Uni wrote (1,409 days ago):
John - Stop being so simple minded, some of us spent 7 hours travelling to get to that demonstration - setting off at 5.30 in the morning! How much were your uni fees? I doubt they were £20 000, as this governement is proposing. The only reasoin why the LimDems are in the coalition is because they got students to vote for them - they wanted our vote - they've betrayed us!
John Kessnit in Coleraine wrote (1,409 days ago):
The violence in London was totally unacceptable yet we have "apologists" on here trying to some how justify it. Students are NOT entitled to anymore than any other citizen in the UK - it is time they realised this and that society owes them nothing! I hope those involved in the violence are caught, brought before the courts and jailed and as for their degree courses well all grants given them should be removed and sued to help pay for the damage caused and injured police officers. Want a degree - get a job, pay the fees! I did!
ROBERT in NEWTOWNABBEY wrote (1,409 days ago):
WELL BRIAN BY SUPPORTING THOSE LITTLE CLOWNS I HOPE YOUR HAPPY WITH YOURSELFS TODAY I LOVE THE WAY THESE GROUP SAID IT STOOD AGAINIST CUTS TO ALL SECTIONS OF THE WORKFORCE BY WRECKING THE PLACE ALL THEY DID WAS TAKE MONEY OUTTA THE PUBLIC PURSE AND TAKE POLICE OFFICERS AWAY FROM THERE NORMAL DUTIES SO THEY PROB HELPED CRIMINALS YESTERDAY SO WELL DONE U SILLY PEOPLE
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