The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have threatened legal action against any County Council withholding grants based on payment of the household charge.
The threat comes on the back of Clare County Council sending letters asking grant applicants for proof of their household charge payment as a determinant to whether their grant application will be processed.
USI President John Logue told RTE that the USI would take legal action against any council that withheld grants for students whose parents had not paid the charge. Logue said that he felt some sympathy for the authorities but said that under law the maintenance grant was for the student, not their parents. He added those students were baring the brunt of a decision made by their parents.
DCU SU moved quickly to say that they disapproved of the decision. They said that it was a “serious injustice to students being punished for their parents decision” adding that third level education was a “transformative life experience for every student and should never be held on a string for those whose parents have made completely separate financial choices.”
DCU YFG Chairperson, Ryan Hunt told The College View they are aware students “can not influence whether their parents are tax compliant”.
However, Hunt would defend county councils if they decided to refuse grants to students because their parents had not paid the €100 household charge. “On the other hand, the local authority [Clare County Council] does have a moral right to refuse based on the non-compliance of the householders.”
Labour DCU and DCU Sinn Fein joined DCSU in condemning Clare County Council, with Labour DCU pledging to “keep a vigilant eye for any attempt to withhold grants from students because of non-payment of the Household Charge”.
DCUSU also contacted Mayor of Ennis, Cllr. Pat Daly who said he would support students on the issue and he believed the grant will be paid out to those who are eligible for it.
This was backed up by Clare County Council who confirmed that students eligible for the grant will receive them, however there will be a delay for those who do not supply proof of payment.
Mayor Daly also told DCUSU he felt using the Property Tax to punish students was unfair and also that the plans were very poorly communicated.
Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn described their actions as “not unreasonable”.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, when questioned by Sinn Fein leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams on the issue, said it’s “entirely appropriate that as public monies fund the processing of these applications that the local authority is entitled to find out whether Persons X has paid the household charge or not.”
Aoife Mullen is our News Editor