‘Taking Third Level Grants from County Councils a Disaster’

Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley has called for the return of
responsibility for Third Level Grants to local authorities after the
disaster of the centralised SUSI System.
Speaking in the light of the huge delays in processing applications
for Third Level Grants which will see many students wait until after
Christmas for payment of their Grants, the Fianna Fáil Councillor has
called for SUSI to be dismantled.

‘We have seen, yet again, Government setting up a centralised
bureaucracy that has failed to deliver, that is inefficient,
ineffective, incompetent and inaccessible. I have attempted to contact
SUSI a number of times and have not received a reply. When these
matters were dealt with by County Councils, officials had a local
knowledge and adopted a practical approach to assessing applications.
All common-sense has gone from the system.’

Students across the country who have applied for the Third Level
Maintenance Grant are facing long waits for much needed grant aid,
people who by definition are not in a position to support themselves
financially, all away from home for the first time. Many of the
families involved are already hard-pressed to meet their existing
financial commitments.

Councillor Feeley, demanding urgent action has said that the Minister
for the Education, Ruairi Quinn TD issuing an apology amounted to
‘Wessel Words.’

‘An apology from the Minister won’t pay the rent, won’t pay the
bus-fare, won’t pay the food bill, and won’t pay the library bill. The
Minister needs to follow the apology up with action and insist that
SUSI gets it act together, puts sensible and practical procedures in
place to get grants approved and payments issued.’

Referring to a case he has dealt with directly, Councillor Feeley
stated that a constituent had been asked to produce her passport and
that of her son to prove citizenship in order to get the Grant. He
stated that it will cost this family over €200 to obtain the Grant
which they need so badly.

‘When these Grant Schemes were administered locally, an applicant and,
I as a public representative could meet a relevant official and ensure
that the matters could be dealt with in a sensible and practical
matter. I am calling that this responsibility be returned to the
County Council. SUSI is another example of how centralising services
has reduced the level of service to the people rather than increase
it,’ concluded Councillor Feeley.