THE head of St Vincent de Paul in the Mid-West has said there is no evidence to suggest that students affected by problems with college grants are seeking aid from the society.
Michael Murphy, regional president of St Vincent de Paul, said that the societyâ€™s office in Limerick had not been approached by students affected by the college grants fiasco, with grants going unpaid before Christmas because of an administrative error.
â€œNo, we certainly have not had any requests from students who are in danger of having to drop out of college or who are saying that they canâ€™t survive the next few weeks,â€ said Mr Murphy.
â€œAs of now, it hasnâ€™t raised its head and I would have thought we would certainly have seen some of that in the last few weeks if it had been that acute.â€
Problems with the centralised system dealing with student grants has left in the region of 32,000 students nationally without financial support almost two months into the academic year.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie Oâ€™Dea warned last week that hundreds of Limerick students were facing into Christmas unsure of having received their grants.
Mr Murphy said that the society was â€œappalled at the situationâ€ that had developed in relation to the student grants and encouraged those and their families affected by the problem to contact them.
â€œIf particular families find that they have a problem, contact your local conference of the St Vincent de Paul and we will see if there is some sort of help,â€ he said.
â€œThere is no way the society can or will be in a position to pay the grant and have it reimbursed, but if there is somebody in particular difficulty with rent payments or other payments, come to us.â€
The SVP is gearing up for its busiest time of the year, which will see the society concentrate on its Toy Appeal, launched this week by Ryan Tubridy, and delivering Christmas hampers to over 1,500 people in the greater Limerick area in tandem with Fr Adrian Egan, Redemptorist rector.
The societyâ€™s church gate collection will take place in both Limerick city and county churches over the coming weeks.
Mr Murphy is urging those in difficulty to contact the society and not to fall prey to those offering to lend money.
â€œAnyone in particular difficulty should contact us, we donâ€™t want people out there worried about what to do, come and talk to your local conference and we will give help to anybody in difficulty,â€ he said.
â€œWe need to remember what Christmas is all about, which is families getting together, not about materialism. If people are spending money, concentrate on the essentials, utilities, putting food on the table.
â€œBudgets are extremely tight at the moment, but donâ€™t, under any circumstances, get involved in money lending or getting into debt for Christmas.â€
Contact the SVP in Limerick on 061-317327.