Students occupy Department of Education for surprise conference

Date:

Roughly 50 students occupied the grounds of the Department of Education today in the bitter cold, erecting a marquee to hold a 'Surprise Conference.' Garda looked on until after a few hours when apparently a deal was reached whereby the students would pack up early and their would be no arrests. Given the cold that police were probably keen to get back indoors for a cup of tea.  The Department was invited to participate but failed to provide a speaker.

A manifesto pinned to the outside of the departments fence announced that this "is an event organized by an autonomous group of individuals with the view to starting a more open minded conversation about the future of Irish education". The Irish Times claimed the group was composed of "Students from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin City University and Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology", our reporter on the scene was told the idea started in NCAD but drew in students from a few other places.

The full text of the statement read

Manifesto

The Surprise Conference 2010, is an event organized by a group of autonomous individuals with the view to starting a more open minded conversation about the future of Irish education that the one that is currently taking place. We feel that the current education system is expensive and inefficient and rather than simply making financial cuts we should make long term structural changes.

The location of the conference on the grounds of the department of education is significant on a symbolic level as well as a practical level. We believe that a more diverse range of opinions needs to be voiced within this institution and that these views need to be voiced by the people who will be effected by the decisions made. Also in keeping with our policy of openness we want to leave the platform open for representatives of the department to contribute their views and responses to the conference.

The conference was organized as a surprise in order to demonstrate the presence of a dedicated, organized body of students in Ireland who are prepare to have their voices heard and to act independently and in their own accord when they feel that pre-existing systems and channels of communication do not reflect the urgency and seriousness of their message.

By the time our intrepid reporter reached the scene the tent was being dismantled and a low key snowball fight had erupted with only a handful of Garda and a lone snowman keeping careful watch.

The tent being taken down

The snowman looks on

WORDS, IMAGES & VIDEO: Andrew

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