The recently renegotiated Programme For Government (doc | pdf | scribd) between the Green Party and Fianna Fáil contains the following clause:
Conscious of the economic pressures on parents today, this Government will not proceed with any new scheme of student contribution for Third Level education.
So, that’s it then, the reintroduction of third-level fees is off the agenda for the lifetime of the current government.
Update: Ferdinand von Prondzynski writes that the decision
… will come back to haunt us. It is a bad decision, made for the wrong reasons. … As the taxpayer is in no position to increase funding, or even maintain the existing totally inadequate levels, we are now facing a situation where the increasingly scarce resources will be concentrated on the wealthier sections of the population and the disadvantaged will be neglected. In addition, the sector as a whole will be asset stripped and will be unable to compete. … I have been at the coalface now for a decade of trying to maintain a world class system of education with the resources that increasingly reflect the aspirations of a developing country. This decision may save votes, but will do long term damage to the sector. It is a bad day for higher education.