10 bin protesters sent to Mountjoy

By John Breslin in the Irish Examiner Friday 10th October 2003

BIN charge protestor Mr Declan Mahon, who will be jailed today, said he was sick to the stomach at the thought of walking through the gates of Mountjoy.

Mr Mahon, from Finglas in north Dublin, was one of 10 protestors, including two grandmothers and a breast-feeding mother, sentenced after they refused to give an undertaking that they will not blockade waste lorries.

Five men and four women were given two weeks in prison by the High Court. A 10th, Lisa Carroll, was sentenced to a week, after the court heard she was still breastfeeding. They join politicians Mr Joe Higgins and Ms Clare Daly in Mountjoy.

Mr Mahon, who was allowed a day's grace as he had a doctor's appointment yesterday, vowed: "As soon as I get out I am going to go straight back on the protest line. This has gone beyond just bin charges - it's about freedom of speech, and freedom to protest."

A father of three children aged 15, 10, and an eight year old girl, Mr Mahon said he had to tell them what was happening in terms the youngest would understand. He said his wife Brenda was "100%" behind him.

He described the sentences handed down as disgraceful. Mr Mahon is dreading going to prison today but does not regret his involvement in the protest. "They used the threat of jail as a weapon, and now we have taken that weapon away from them," said Mr Mahon, adding that he was urging people to join a protest at Mountjoy on Saturday.

Ms Justice Mella Carroll jailed the ten after they broke an injunction filed by Dublin Council. Along with Mr Mahon and Ms Carroll, Ms Noreen Bradley; Ms Anna Doran, Ms Kay Conlon, Ms Bernie Hughes, Mr John O'Neill, Mr Declan Mahon, Mr Dermot Connolly, Mr Colm Breathnach and Mr Noel Kelly were jailed.

Two others gave an undertaking not to get involved in disrupting collections, joining 13 who did so on Wednesday. The bin charge protests began early last month after local authorities in Dublin decided to stop collecting bins from residents who have not paid the charge.

Fingal County Council said 90% of households in its area have now paid their bin charges, netting the council over 500,000 in the past month.

The jailing of the protesters has been condemned by unions. Mr Eamon Devoy, acting general secretary of the TEEU, said that it was wrong poor people were locked up, while corrupt politicians walk around freely.

For more reports on the campaign, go here.