Sinn Féin spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, has demanded that the government tackle the student accommodation crisis. Her comments came as third level students across the state are staging a walk out from lectures in protest at the cost of education and the lack of affordable student accommodation.
Teachta Conway-Walsh raised the issue in the Dáil with the Tánaiste.
“I send solidarity and support to these students and their families taking part in this walk out today. This is not a decision that they have taken lightly. They have been forced into it by the government’s abject failure to stand up for students.
“Students are struggling to get by day by day. Students are sleeping in cars, on sofas or commuting exhausting journeys because there simply isn’t enough housing. PHD researchers are pushed to the brink of their finances, without a living wage or decent conditions. SUSI grants are in dire need of reform.
“Today in the Dáil, I told the Tánaiste that the student housing crisis should shame his government. It is not good enough for government Ministers to act surprised every September.
“Fine Gael has been in government for 11 years and for each of those years it has gotten worse.
“Despite all the hand wringing from government TDs- this year’s budget is the third consecutive budget from this government with no allocation for student accommodation.
“The Fine Gael Minister for Further and Higher Education has passed the buck to the Minister for Housing. Someone needs to take responsibility.
“We need capital investment to unlock the 3,000-student college-owned beds that this government have allowed to sit on the self. This must happen without delay.
“Sinn Féin allocated €81 million in additional capital investment to get these shovel ready projects onsite and under construction.
“Today in the Dáil I urged the Tánaiste to reform the rent rebate measures in the Budget to ensure that students whose parents pay their rent are not unfairly excluded from the scheme. I welcome his positive response to this. It is important that he provides clarity, so that families can have the information they need as soon as possible. It is also crucial that the government include PHD researchers in this rebate, as they are currently unfairly excluded due to not being considered as ‘workers’ within the rebate scheme.
“Sinn Féin is determined to stand up for students and ensure that they are treated fairly.”