Monday, April 13, 2009


Fine Gael graduate tax is simply third level fees in disguise - Byrne

Speaking as Fine Gael launched its proposal for a graduate tax local Sinn Féin Balbriggan candidate Fergus Byrne said the proposal highlights that party’s hypocritical approach to the campaign against the reintroduction of third level fees.

He said: "While preaching to third level students that he is totally against the reintroduction of fees and will be fighting along with them, in reality it is quite clear that Deputy Hayes is talking out of both sides of his mouth on this issue. What Deputy Hayes and his Fine Gael Party have proposed is simply third level fees in disguise."

"The graduate tax, or as it is called in Australia ‘the Higher Education Contribution Scheme’, is a scheme whereby students have their fees paid for upfront by the government and then pay back the amount owed through extra taxation. The Australian system has grown so complex that it needs approximately AUS $5 billion to overhaul and comes as a response to a 272 page review of the system. The Higher Education Contribution Scheme as a system is broken and flawed. Originally created to increase access, it has the opposing affect. Students finish university steeped in debt and many students will never earn enough to repay their loan."
"Should a graduate tax system be implemented it would be upwards of a decade before any cost would be recouped by the state, so the argument that this system would be able to fund the sector is completely flawed.

Sinn Féin is very clear on its position. We will not accept fees through the back door by increasing the registration fee, we will not accept fees through the front door by full-on tuition fees, and we will not accept fees through the side door by way of this fundamentally flawed graduate tax.

"Higher education benefits the entire society and should not be subject to these disgraceful attacks from the government and the Fine Gael party. It should be paid for through a fair and progressive taxation system."

December 2008

"Reverse Education Cuts Now!" demands Byrne

Speaking in support of the more than 12,000 teachers and parents who turned out yesterday evening to demonstrate against the devastating education cuts arising out of this months Budget, Balbriggan Ward Sinn Féin Candidate Fergus Byrne has called for "… these savage cuts to be reversed immediately." Fergus then accused "The Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government of completely abandoning its own Programme for Government which had committed them to reduce class sizes to 24 by 2010. All we have got from this short-sighted, uncaring government are lies, more lies and damned lies."

"Increasing class sizes will mean that up to 1,200 primary school teachers will be let go and more overcrowded classrooms will result. This Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government has also slashed funds for the school building programme which will have serious consequences for more than 1,400 schools currently waiting for new buildings and repairs to existing buildings. Indeed, many of these schools had been promised funding in the run up to the last General Election."

"Budget 2008 is tsunami that has wreaked havoc on our two most important social services – Health and Education. Budget 2008 targets working families, school children, the low paid and pensioners. Over the years the so-called Celtic Tiger bypassed many of these people and it is they who are now expected to pay the price for the Government’s frivolous mismanagement of the economy. Let not those who have sacrificed most by enduring chronic social services be the victims of Budget 2008! Budget 2008 is an act of infamy that will be long remembered by the Irish electorate."

"The government does not have public support for their budget. Public anger around the government’s class size measures is palpable and warranted. The campaign to reverse the government's totally unjust budget cuts is gathering momentum and if there is sufficient public pressure education services can be protected. This week it is protests but in January schools will have no option but to send children home unless these cuts are reversed. REVERSE EDUCATION CUTS NOW!!"

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