A LARGE garda presence was maintained at the University of Limerick during the opening of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
Members of the Socialist Youth party were present outside the academy, but An Taoiseach Brian Cowen made the strategic move of avoiding the entrance at the front door.
The group carried placards saying “Brian the fat lady has sung – we want a general election” and “Brian, Can you do an impression of the Taoiseach?”
“Students are fed up with cuts and registration fee hikes,
I think he knows himself at the moment that the game is up, but we’re trying to show him today that we have had enough and want an end to this,” said one student
Another group of students protested outside the Schumann building on Friday as they said they didn’t wish to overshadow the opening of the academy.
However, the Taoiseach received backing from a number of local Fianna Fail TDs. Former Minister for Defence, Deputy Willie O’Dea, said he believed the Taoiseach’s interview on Morning Ireland was “overblown.”
“When you’re in a convivial atmosphere like that there is the temptation to stay on,” said deputy O’Dea of the party’s think-in in Galway a fortnight ago.
He said it would be the “worst possible time to be diverted into a general election campaign” given the prevailing economic circumstances.
When asked of Fianna Fail’s prospects in the next general election, he said trying to predict the outcome at this stage would be like “asking a giraffe to forecast the temperature in Timbuktu.”
Minister of State Peter Power, with responsibility for overseas development, praised the latest addition to the north side of the Plassey campus.
“When I was on the Governing Authority a number of years ago we made the strategic decision to acquire a lot of land on the north campus. There was a lot of question marks over whether that was the right thing to do at the time, but I think that decision has been proven right. A huge amount of that land has been build on now,” said Minister Power.
UL president, Professor Don Barry, said there would be “more ambitious plans on the way on the Clare campus”, to which he received a loud cheer, following calls that the campus should be renamed the University of Limerick and Clare.
However, the proposed boundary extension is set to see that part of the campus move within the Limerick boundary.
Among the developments scheduled for the north-side of the UL campus, connected via the Living Bridge, will the graduate entry medical school building and state of the art sports facilities.