Letter to Irish Times, 26th Sept. 2003.
Jailings over Bin-charge protest

From Emmet Farrell
Steering Committee, Dublin Campaign against the Bin Tax.

Madam,
Commenting on the jailing of Joe Higgins and Clare Daly, you state: "The issue goes deeper than bin charges, to the rule of law and the democratic validity of lawful decisions." (Editorial, Sept. 25th.) Indeed it does.

For decades wealthy sectors of Irish society have been involved in the criminal evasion of due taxes with few lectures from the Irish Times on the 'rule of law'. Solicitors, and accountants facilitated this evasion while waged and salaried workers on PAYE taxation funded State services.

In 1981-82 the refusal of the wealthy to pay due taxes, together with Government tolerance of this tax evasion, contributed to a financial crisis and three elections in the space of 18 months.

Alan Dukes, Minister for Finance in the 1982-87 Fine Gael-Labour Government, apparently felt so strongly about tax evasion that legislation allowing the jailing of tax evaders was introduced. But instead of collecting the hundreds of millions in due taxes and jailing the tax evaders, Alan Dukes and Dick Spring introduced 'service charges' in 1983. These charges have been opposed ever since by PAYE taxpayers.

The tax evaders were offered three amenesties during these past 20 years by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Labour Party. Aside from these 'special offers', the amount of due taxes written off by the Revenue Commissioners in each year from 1983 to 2001 exceeded the total double-taxation 'service charges' levied by local authorities throughtout the State.

Lazy journalists are allowing the 20-year struggle against double taxation to be presented as a case of 'spongers' refusing to pay an envirnmental levy. The truth is that the origins of water charges, bin charges and assorted other service charges have nothing whatever to do with protecting the environment and in reality are part of the moves to privatise every municipal services with the potential to provide profits for the private sector.

Of course there is a waste management crisis which has to be resolved - and the campaigners against the bin charges and other service charges want bins collected, adequate recycling facilities and taxes on producers at such a level as to force them to produce less wasteful packaging.

As for the 'rule of law', Tony Gregory TD has pointed to the contradictions between the treatment of Joe Higgins and Clare Daly and the failure to act agianst the wealthy elements in society which transgress the law.

No owner or operator of an illegal dump has been arrested and brought to Mountjoy. Former Governemnt Ministers have lied to and obstructed tribunals, for which the appropriate sentence is two years. Tax evasion has been proven at the tribunal into the beef industry and the current tribunals into political corruption. but nobody has spent time in Mountjoy. Perjury is a regular feature of the tribunals. Gardai who have assaulted citizenss and then charged the victims with assault have made financial settlements on the steps of the High Court. They are still in uniform and Mr McDowell thinks that they are a few rotten apples.

I was in the court for the contempt case against both Higgins and Daly and heard the judge say that Fingal County Council's claims of intimidation by Joe Higgins and Clare Daly were not accepted by the Court. In my view their crime is that they have provided leadership in a serious, well-organised campaign for justice in the taxation system.

The implications of the court ruling in the case is that if a peaceful protest campaign succesfullly uses placards and picketing to appeal to the class solidarity of workers, the government of the day can appeal to the courts for a directive to arrest unnamed people in attmepts to break this political protest.

This judgement has far reaching inmplications for democracy in Ireland and must be opposed.

Yours etc.
Emmet Farrell
Steering Committee
Dublin Campaign against the Bin Tax.

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