Police attack student protest in Dublin
Police attack student protest in Dublin

Riot police attacked students in Dublin today with baton charges, dogs, armored vehicles and horses after the students protesting against government cuts occupied the Department of Finance and threw eggs at the Dail.

Up to 25,000 students from colleges across the State had joined today’s march and one section of the crowd held a sit-down protest at the gates of Leinster House on Kildare St.

Members of the Dublin parliament reported that empty bottles, cans, several eggs and a sliced loaf of bread were hurled over the gates, but the sit-down protest passed off peacefully.

About 2,000 people then gathered on Merrion Row close to the Department of Finance after the main march on Leinster House.

Student members of Sinn Fein, eirigi and other left-wing groups were at the scene.

Bricks, eggs and placards were thrown at the building and the group of protesters made it inside.

Gardai in riot gear clubbed the protestors while police on horses also charged at the main body of students. A number of protesters suffered serious head injuries during the violence and several were knocked unconscious in the clashes.

This morning the 26-County Taoiseach Brian Cowen refused to say in the Dail if third-level fees would be introduced or capitation fees increased in Budget. It has been widely reported that fees for students could be doubled as part of the measures to be announced next month to deal with the financial crisis.


Brian Cowen said it was imperative that all areas would be considered for reductions and no area could be ringfenced or immune to cuts.

Earlier today, his crumbling government suffered a devastating blow when the High Court ruled in favour of Sinn Fein’s challenge against the coalition government’s delay in holding the Donegal South West by-election.

The Fianna Fail/Green Party government has a working majority of just three TDs in the Dublin parliament, while by-elections are now due in four constituencies.

In a notably strong and clear judgement, High Court President Justice Nicholas Kearns said the government had “offended the spirit of the Constitution” by failing to hold the vote.

Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty, who brought the challende, said “the game is now up” for the coalition government and that the Taoiseach should call a General Election.

“I was forced to bring the government kicking and screaming before the courts over its denial of democracy,” said Mr Doherty.

“Today’s decision is a great victory for the people of Donegal South West who have been politically under-represented for the past year-and-a-half. It is a victory for democracy itself.

“That the Government chose to waste taxpayers’ money fighting this case is a disgrace. Today’s court decision has struck a fatal blow to the life of this Government.

“With three other by-elections now due, the Government has little if any prospect of survival. The game is now up. The Taoiseach should now do the right thing and call a General Election.”

While Cowen said he would “consider the judgement”, the Green Party today appeared to have conceded that the ruling was “definitive” and the government’s efforts to prevent the by-elections has failed.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that our position as a party should be that the impact of the High Court decision should be followed through in its spirit and the by-election for Donegal South West should be held immediately at the soonest opportunity to move the writ,” said Green Party Senator Dan Boyle.

He also called for the other three votes to take place in the Spring, although later reportedly called for all four by-elections to held at the same time.

Sinn Fein is to move the writ for the Donegal South West tomorrow, while Labour are to seek a date for all four by-elections.

Assuming the motion on the writ in passed tomorrow, it is expected that, at least, the Donegal South West by-election will be held within three weeks, further eroding the government’s majority ahead of crucial budget votes next month.

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