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Students force yet another ministerial U-turn

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Students of the University of Limerick  blocked a road bridge as Martin Cullen visited, in a fees protest, forcing the minister and UL chancellor Peter Malone into a detour.

Students of the University of Limerick blocked a road bridge as Martin Cullen visited, in a fees protest, forcing the minister and UL chancellor Peter Malone into a detour.

Students of the University of Limerick blocked a road bridge as Martin Cullen visited, in a fees protest, forcing the minister and UL chancellor Peter Malone into a detour.

Barry Duggan

STUDENTS forced a Government minister to trudge across two counties in appalling weather yesterday when they blocked a road bridge.

Arts, Sports and Tourism Minister Martin Cullen was not singing in the rain when 400 students prevented his cavalcade from reaching the Irish Chamber Orchestra's new home at the University of Limerick.

The Fianna Fail TD was forced to do a physical U-turn and walk across the campus, taking the country's longest pedestrian bridge over the Shannon.

The protest against the proposed reintroduction of third-level fees delayed the official opening of the ICO's new home by an hour.

In wet and windy conditions, students stopped the ministerial Mercedes on the university bridge -- leaving him with no option but to walk across the 350m 'Living Bridge'.

It connects to the south and north banks of the campus -- split between Limerick and Clare.

"We got a nice walk across the bridge," he joked afterwards.

"I understand the issue, they wouldn't be students if they weren't protesting.

"I am just surprised there was so few of them to be honest," Mr Cullen said.

The ICO's stylish landmark building was built at a cost of €3.5m. At the hub is a spacious studio with rehearsal rooms.

ICO chief executive, John Kelly, said: "It's a facility that will enable us to achieve our goal of becoming one of the leading chamber orchestras in the world."

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