Socialist Voice October 2003

Bin Tax Jailings: Unions must act

Bin tax protesters, their relatives and fellow campaigners were visibly shocked by the imprisonment of ten residents by the High Court on 9 October. This shock quickly turned to anger and determination to continue the blockades of bin trucks and opposition to this government and their hated bin tax.

By Stephen Boyd

A speaker at the protest outside Mountjoy read out the names of the ten bin tax protesters who were spending their first night in prison to huge cheers. Declan Mahon, Anna Doran, Kay Conlon, Noreen Bradley, Bernie Hughes, Noel Kelly, Lisa Carroll, all Finglas residents; Dermot Connolly member of the Socialist Party, John O'Neill and Colm Breathnach of the Irish Socialist Network, joined Socialist Party TD and Councillor, Joe Higgins and Clare Daly in Mountjoy. The heroic stand taken by the jailed bin tax protesters in the face of this intimidation is an inspiration to all and encapsulates the anger and hatred felt by many towards Bertie Ahern's government. Two more anti-bin tax protesters face jail on 13 October at the hands of Dublin City Council.

The depth of anger against the bin tax is clearly seen by the scale of non-payment and the fact that people are prepared to go to jail. But this opposition is about more than just the bin tax. Its also about the health and education cuts, the increases in the cost of living, the threat to reintroduce the water charges and the recent revelations of corruption and tax fraud involving Fianna Fail politicians.The bin tax is seen as just the latest attack on working class people by this right wing government.

The introduction of non-collection has brought the hatred of this unpopular government to the fore. The battle against the bin tax is a turning point and a defining moment for the government. People are incensed. An anti-bin tax spokesperson summed up this feeling when commenting on the plan to sell off the Victorian and overcrowded Mountjoy prison, saying that it would make more sense and be more profitable if they instead moved all of the politicians into Mountjoy and sold off Leinster House!

The heroism of the jailed bin tax protesters must now be matched by the leaders of the trade unions. The Socialist Party is calling on the union leaders to organise a City-wide work stoppage to force the government to release the bin tax protesters and to immediately end their policy of non-collection. The Socialist Party, along with many others is continuing to organise community based direct action to blockade bin trucks and bin depots. Collect all bins or collect none is a demand which the anti-bin tax campaign's tactics and actions must be built around.

Declan Mahon, now imprisoned in Mountjoy, summed up the determination of the residents who are to the forefront of this battle, when he said a few hours before his incarceration, "When I get out of prison, the first thing I'm going to do is stand in front of another bin truck." Follow Declan's example, join in the blockading of bin trucks in your community, shut down the bin collection service, defeat non-collection and the bin tax.

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