A source in Limerick City Council has revealed that the local authority will not be prioritising the grant application of students who have paid the household charge.
Prior to this announcement City Councillor Maurice Quinlivan applauded the council’s decision to refrain from forcing students to reveal whether they have paid the household charge or not.
The Sinn Féin Councillor was “reasonably happy” that the council had, at the time, “no plans as yet to follow their Clare counterparts.”
Councillor Quinlivan continued: “I think most fair minded people would be appalled that any local authority would seek to hold the future education of young people for ransom. Clare County Council’s actions are disgraceful and clearly an outrageous attempt at blackmail. Many people did not pay the household charge because they simply could not afford to”.
“Families, many struggling to pay bills and keep their children in education, are being targeted and this is yet another attack on them encouraged by the government.”
If there is a delay in payment of a grant to the student, there is also a delay in payment to the university, according to Adam Moursy. president of UL Students Union.
Mr Moursy explained: “A delay in the grant going to the University is unfair on both the institution and the student and is unnecessarily adding more strain to the system. But the more important issue is the delay to the students. The maintenance grant is in place to cover rent, books and living essentials. If students do not receive this it puts unfair pressure on parents who may possibly have to get loans to pay for the charge”.
“Clare County Council are hitting back by saying the household charge will be used to process the application for the grant to come through.”
Mr Moursy continued: “I think it is unfair that they are trying to link the two”.
“I think that it is important to note that proving if you have paid the household charge does not apply to people who are applying for the grant for the first time. This fact is not being mentioned at all in the national media,” Mr Moursy concluded.
Councillor Quinlivan has said that the move by Clare County Council was “disgraceful” and further condemned the comments made by the Minister for Education, Ruari Quinn.
“I hope also that the Labour party are suitably embarrassed by the comments of their Minister, Ruairí Quinn who said that Clare County Council were right to take this course of action.”
Limerick City Council provided 505 grants to students in 2011.