They came from every corner of the country. Thousands of ordinary people who have decided they can no longer bear the weight of the Irish governments’ and the EU/IMF’s austerity which places the burden of bank bailouts and corporate corruption on the shoulders of the working class.
The National Boxing stadium on the south-side of Dublin was full to capacity and it was the people from communities around the country who vented their anger at the Household Charge a €100 annual charge on people’s homes which takes no account of people’s ability to pay and which is the precursor to a property tax that will be €600 or more and the introduction of water charges on a similar scale in 2014.
The Workers’ Party was well represented with delegations from Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Meath, Louth, Kilkenny, Galway and other parts of the country. Among them was Party President Michael Finnegan who said that the huge turnout at the rally was an indication that ordinary people had finally decided it was time to take a stand against austerity.
As delegates and activists were gathering at the stadium news had come out that the Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan had ordered local councils to open their offices next Saturday in an attempt to boost payment of the charge which is still being boycotted by at least 80% of householders. He also told councils to send out officials to knock on the doors of every home in the country and demand payment of the €100 charge. It was the mark of a desperate man who realises that the Household Charge has become the place where the battle lines have been drawn between the policy of austerity and the ordinary people – workers and their families.
Workers Party member and former county councillor Sean Walsh from Portlaw in County Waterford received huge applause when he told the meeting that he was making the stand against the Household Charge both on his own behalf and for his children and his grandchildren who were being penalised for the crimes of capitalist bankers and speculators and those of corrupt politicians and public officials at national and global level.
Earlier Councillor Ted Tynan from Mayfield in Cork City said that the government’s plan to send council officials door-to-door in a bid to intimidate people into paying the Household Charge would be met with solid resistance and that it was a strategy that would backfire on the government. “If the government think that people are going to be cowed by these kind of bully-boy tactics then they should think again. This is no longer just about €100, it is a battle between the government and the policy of austerity and the will of the working people of this country who are no longer prepared to lie down and be battered by the government, the European Union and the forces of international greed and capital. The people have risen and they will no longer bow down to threats and intimidation from the likes of Phil Hogan, Enda Kenny, the EU’s Olli Rehn or anyone else”.
24th March 2012