Greens 'still oppose' return of college fees
THE Green Party last night insisted it remained opposed to any reintroduction of third-level fees, amid growing support around the cabinet table for the revenue-generating measure.
Following confirmation from former Education Minister Mary Hanafin that third-level fees were now "firmly back on the agenda", a spokesman for the Greens stressed that there was nothing in the Programme for Government about college fees.
"The Green Party remains opposed to them ... We will wait and see what comes. We will wait and see what he (Batt O'Keefe) has to say."
Last night, president of the Union of Students of Ireland, (USI) Shane Kenny, accused Ms Hanafin of an "extraordinary u-turn".
"It's very disappointing, given that she herself, on every occasion prior to the last general election and before leaving education, was adamantly opposed to it," said Mr Kelly. "She's now following the tune of her master all the way."
In the past, Ms Hanafin ruled out a return to fees, arguing that abolition of fees had helped to widen access to college significantly.
Last summer Ms Hanafin said: "I would prefer not to see a return to fees."
However, she has now argued that: "I always felt the fees should never have been removed. I firmly believe that it never actually achieved its aim."
Currently, Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe is examining fee systems worldwide and is expected to bring one definitive option to cabinet in April.