National News in Brief


Dundalk IT President Opposes Fee Increases.

The President of Dundalk IT, Dennis Cummins, set out his opposition to any planned increases in third-level fees at the USI’s Public Meeting on the Cost of College in Dundalk last Monday, stating that the revenue gathered was never seen by colleges. Cummins also said high fees only serve to victimise already struggling students.

The meeting was attended by local politicians, including Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who said he supported the USI’s ‘Fed Up? Stand Up!’ campaign.  All elected representatives from Louth were invited to the event, but no government TDs attended.

Councillor Thomas Sharkey also gave his support, and urged students move away from the language of entitlement when discussing the grant: “Don’t call it a grant. Call it food. Call it accommodation. Call it books. Because that’s what it is.”

USI president John Logue stated that Cummins’ view represented the “consensus” opinion and that the money from fee increases was “going into a black hole of debt” rather than towards college services. The meeting also saw a cross-party coalition of councillors commit to bringing a motion to Minister Ruairi Quinn, asking him to prevent any “significant increase” to third level costs.

UCC Commits to Energy Savings under SEAI Agreement

University College Cork (UCC) has signed an agreement with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) to affirm its commitment to energy efficiency. The agreement, signed under the SEAI’s Public Sector Energy Partnership, sees UCC aiming to meet a target of over 3% energy savings year on year. An eight-year plan, to be developed sometime in the future, will commit UCC to energy savings of 33% by 2020, as per the National Energy Efficiency Plan 2009-2020.

UCC Buildings Officer Paul Prendergast spoke of his university’s commitment to “enhance the sustainable environment of the University community” and described the SEAI programme as a “key component” of UCC’s overall energy strategy.

SEAI Chief Executive Brian Motherway was also pleased with the decision, saying that his organisation was delighted to have UCC on board and stressing the partnership’s role in facilitating Irish public bodies to lead the way in energy efficiency and environmental protection.

UCC’s environmental record includes receiving the world’s first Green Campus flag by An Taisce in 2010. The university was also the first third level institution to be awarded the ISO 50001 standard in energy management, which enables organisations to establish the systems and processes necessary to improve energy performance.

NUIG Students’ Union Supports Pieta House and Age Action Ireland

NUI Galway Students’ Union President Paul Curley said he was “delighted” to announce the decision to endorse and fundraise for Pieta House and Age Action Ireland.

Pieta House works to help those dealing with suicidal ideation and self-harm, while Age Action Ireland campaigns for positive images of ageing and better policies geared towards the elderly.

Representatives of both organisations expressed their pleasure at the decision. Age Action Ireland spokesperson Eamonn Timmons said the charity was “honoured” to be chosen and that the support would “enable us to continue the important work of making Galway a better place in which to grow older.”

Pieta House founder, Joan Freeman, also welcomed the support, coming as a new suicide crisis centre is set to open in Tuam this year. She asked students to be aware of the service and to use it if necessary: “Suicide can happen to anyone and I want to ask everyone in NUI Galway to look out for their friends and classmates and get in contact with us if they think anyone may be in distress.”

Curley also emphasised NUIG’s tradition of fundraising, stating that students had raised €22,000 for charity last year.