Between thirty and thirty-five students from Galway universities are currently engaged in an occupation of a branch of Allied Irish Bank (AIB) on Shop Street in the city. The occupation is being led by left-wing students group Free Education for Everyone (FEE) but also includes members of Occupy Galway, Labour Youth and at least two officers from NUI Galway Students’ Union.
Speaking to The University Times by phone today one of the occupiers, Sarah McCarthy, explained the motivation behind the action, “We had a march today in Galway [called ‘Time To Get Angry’] to oppose the hike in the registration fee to €3,000, the abolition of the postgraduate grant and the cuts to SNAs.”
“The march finished at the office of Fine Gael TD for the area Brian Walsh. We then talked about why these things were happening and what we could do. We agreed that the most important factor was the bank bailouts and the continuing transfer of wealth to bank bondholders and the financial system.”
At that point, she said, a decision was made to occupy the foyer of the bank – which the Central Bank estimates will need a bailout totalling €13.3billion – until closing time at four o’clock.
The occupying contingent are mainly students from NUI Galway, although Ms. McCarthy said there was also involvement from GTI, the Galway Technical Institute.
FEE Ireland reported through their Twitter account that one arrest had been made as a person attempted “give food to the occupiers”. The Gardaí, they said, were “not letting the occupiers eat”. The account also claims that “parents and primary school children” had arrived to support the occupation and that national media outlets were “en route” to cover the protests. None of this information was independently verifiable.
The University Times contacted the AIB Press Office, who had “no comment to make”. The Garda Press Office said that they were aware that a group were occupying a business in Galway city centre, but had no further comment to make on what, if any, action they would be taking.