THE IRISH government has moved swiftly to defuse growing protests over the status of the country's 11 regional technical colleges.
A decision to upgrade Waterford college to institute level with the power of awarding its own qualifications sparked off a week of demonstrations in Cork as well as a march in Athlone and demands from other colleges for upgrading.
With a general election not far off the government could ill afford to have opposition parties cashing in on the issue. It has decided to establish an expert group to draw up criteria which the colleges would have to meet in order to be upgraded. Although the membership and timetable of the group have yet to be worked out, the announcement seems to have done the trick as the protests have stopped, for the time being at least.