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Roughly 1500-2000 in Belfast Protest Against Fees Increase and EMA Cuts

category antrim | education | news report author Friday December 10, 2010 00:34author by Róisín Report this post to the editors

Approximately 1500-2000 people took the streets in Belfast today, marching from schools and universities to congregate at the City Hall, Belfast to protest the proposed increase in fees, which could see people being charged up to £9,000 a year for tuition. The protest was also against the cuts in EMA, a small fee paid to secondary school students from lower-income families to help pay for their final two years of higher education.
One banner criticising the Liberal Democrats in the UK on going back on their promise to fight a rise in tuition fees
One banner criticising the Liberal Democrats in the UK on going back on their promise to fight a rise in tuition fees

Approximately 1500-2000 people took the streets in Belfast today, marching from schools and universities to congregate at the City Hall, Belfast to protest the proposed increase in fees, which could see people being charged up to £9,000 a year for tuition. The protest was also against the cuts in EMA, a small fee paid to secondary school students from lower-income families to help pay for their final two years of higher education.

A number of groups gathered at the City Hall to voice their opposition to the proposals at 1pm today, including QUB FEE and NIPSA, as well as Socialist, Anarhicst and Republican groups.
The protest began very peacefully, with attendees taking up the path in front of City Hall where chants took place and a number of representatives from schools, organisations and universities spoke to the crowd. Later in the day, the protesters took to the road outside of City Hall, sitting down in the street to stop the traffic in the street. This lasted for about an hour, until most protesters were moved back onto the pavements forcefully by PSNI officers using heavy-handed tactics, beating a number of protesters and charging into the crowd with batons. According to BBC, 8 people were arrested during the protest.

A group of about 30 remained on the road for a long period of time after the vast majority of protesters were removed from the road, however they were also moved at around 6.25pm. At this point, though the crowd began to lose numbers, it stood outside City Hall waiting for an announcement regarding the vote on fee rises in Westminster - at 6.45pm the crowd was informed by megaphone that the proposal had been passed by 21 votes.
After this information was revealed, the crowd remaining decided to keep up the momentum for the vote soon-to-happen in Stormont, so a meeting is being called on Monday to decide on the next protest and the organisation of it.

Related facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=114433441957577

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Gerry Carroll (QUB FEE/Socialist Workers Student Society) speaking to the crowd
Gerry Carroll (QUB FEE/Socialist Workers Student Society) speaking to the crowd

Protestors and PSNI officers in front of a bus which was stopped due to the protestors' sit-down protest on the road
Protestors and PSNI officers in front of a bus which was stopped due to the protestors' sit-down protest on the road

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