INISHOWEN TD., Charlie
McConalogue has described as "deeply unfair" that
students in Donegal could face a threat to their
third level grants because of the "mess the
Government made with the household charge".
Deputy McConalogue, who is Fianna Fáil spokesperson
on Education was responding to reports that Donegal
County Council could follow other local authorities
including Clare, in demanding proof of payment for
the household charge from all students applying for
third level grants. Elsewhere, student unions have
said introducing such measures may be illegal.
“Linking the household charge to student grants is
simply unacceptable. Instead of maintaining
responsibility for setting the qualification
criteria for student grants as is his duty, the
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn has described this
practise as ‘reasonable’ and seems to see nothing
wrong in targeting students from lower-income
families in this way," said Deputy McConalogue.
“Students who are seeking financial support for
college are not homeowners themselves. Why should
they be penalised because their parents can’t or
won’t pay the Household Charge? Why should their
third level education be put in jeopardy because
this Government made a complete and utter mess over
the roll out and collection of the household
He said such a step would set a "dangerous
precedent" and it must be stopped.
"Linking the Household Charge and student grants
raises serious questions about what comes next. For
example, what is to prevent a local authority from
withholding a student grant from a student whose
family is in rent arrears with a council or who are
not up to date with water charges?
“I raised this important issue with Minister for
Education Ruairí Quinn at the Oireachtas Education
Committee today, but the Minister is standing by his
initial approach that this is a ‘reasonable’
measure," he added.