Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/323/9628
Ireland: Fighting The Bin Tax
DUBLIN'S HIGH Court jailed six residents last week for three weeks and each were fined €1,500 for protesting against the bin tax. The state, moving at the behest of the Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrats coalition government, are attacking the right to protest in a manner not seen in decades.
Kevin McLoughlin, Dublin
In a highly significant move, the judge for the South Dublin County Council case was replaced with the most senior judge, the President of the High Court. The more severe prison sentences, as well as the awarding of fines for the first time, was therefore not surprising.
Working-class communities are being criminalised. 21 people have been imprisoned for opposing the bin tax yet the country is awash with corrupt business gangsters and politicians who are protected by the system. These developments are creating a very angry backlash among people.
Practically any effective action against the bin tax has been outlawed. That will not be accepted. This particularly harsh judgement has been timed to try and cut across the opposition in three of the four councils who are now extending their non-collection policy into the working-class communities for the first time.
The morning after the jailings of the people from South Dublin, the campaign placed a well-attended blockade on the council depot in defiance of the High Court. As a result of the jailings and in solidarity the bin workers refused to pass our picket and the service was closed down for a day.
In support of a union recognition battle in a private waste firm, Dublin City Council bin workers held a four-hour stoppage on 6 November with a march and rally. It was the intention of the union involved, SIPTU, to have a few union, then Labour and Sinn Fein speakers. When Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (MP) who was jailed for fighting the bin tax, was seen at the rally some workers and union reps ensured he was added to the platform.
Joe got the best applause from the workers, particularly when he said that the unions had to support the bin workers who are being intimidated by management over the bin tax.
The role of the union leaders is disgraceful on the bin tax. They could have helped us win this battle in days but the workers have no confidence that if they took a stand against the bin tax that the union would back them.
Their scepticism is understandable. SIPTU leaders have mandated their delegates to the Dublin Trades Council to vote against a motion which calls for a work-time demonstration against the jailings and the tax. Yet a number of those imprisoned have been members of SIPTU, including Clare Daly and Joe Higgins.
Already the campaigns have been able to organise successful protests in the estates that have cut across the first attempts to extend non-collection in the Dublin city and south areas. Time is ticking and the establishment would like to have broken the opposition to this tax by New Year as local elections are due in six months.
Urgent solidarity appeal
AMONG THE six jailed was 25-year-old Fionn Ryder, Socialist Party member and a member of the branch committee of the An Post branch of the CPSU union and 20-year-old David Murphy, ISR/Socialist Youth member and class rep on the University College Dublin (UCD) Student Council.
Both Fionn and David were sentenced to three weeks in prison and fines of i1,500 each for refusing to give an undertaking to stop protesting. Fionn and David were separated from the other four prisoners and are being held in the general wing of the notorious, Victorian Mountjoy prison.
These two young anti-bin tax protesters have received no favours (unlike the disgraced former Fianna Fail TD, Liam Lawlor, who was even allowed his mobile phone in prison). They are only allowed a weekly one-hour visit.
We are urgently asking readers, especially branches and members of International Socialist Resistance (ISR) and the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI - the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) to send messages of support to both Fionn and Dave as soon as possible to keep their morale up.
email messages of support to: email@example.com or letters to Fionn Ryder and Dave Murphy, Mountjoy Prison, North Circular Road, Dublin, Ireland.
Also, send letters of protest to the Minister of Justice at: Minister of Justice, Michael MacDowell, TD, Dail Eireann, Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin, Ireland, or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
MICK MURPHY, co-ordinator of the Dublin South Campaign Against Refuse Charges and a Socialist Party member, was imprisoned for three weeks and given a fine and charged costs totalling €1500 in a separate court case on Monday 10 November.
His hearing was postponed from the previous Tuesday. Please rush letters of protest to: Minister of Justice email@example.com
In The Socialist 15 November 2003: