Mass opposition to coalition government’s tax as registration deadline
Saturday 31 March was the deadline set by the Irish government for 1.86
million households in the south of Ireland to register for their new
household tax. The €100 tax is an interim charge before the introduction
of a new property and water taxes in 2013 and 2014. People were told
that if they did not register and pay it by the time of the deadline
they would face penalties and threat of court appearances and
substantial fines of up to €2,500 and €100 for every day that this is
On 31 March, as an estimated 14,000 people took to the streets of Dublin
to protest at the main coalition government Fine Gael’s party’s Ard
Fheis (national conference), over one million households (59%) had not
registered. “Fine Gael you got it wrong, look around we are a million
strong!” was the main chant heard during the protest, which was
organised by the Campaign Against the Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT).
The determined and defiant mood on this protest showed that working
people had taken a new stand against the tax and the further threat to
introduce new property and water taxes in 2013. The protest also
reflected broader anger and disgust in society at the billions of euro
in austerity cuts, implemented over the last four years in Ireland,
while billions have been handed over to billionaire bondholders.
Socialist Party members got an excellent response to our ideas during
the protest. We sold just under 500 copies of the Socialist newspaper
and we distributed thousands of leaflets. People expressed interest in
joining the Socialist Party during the march.
On the previous Saturday, over 3,000 activists and supporters of the
CAHWT packed into the National Stadium, Dublin, for a national indoor
protest rally and assembly. They travelled, from early morning in many
cases, from every corner of the country.
Coaches emblazoned with campaign flags
They arrived on coaches emblazoned with campaign flags, banners and
Fifteen minutes before the event was due to start, the arena was packed.
The careful plans of the campaign stewards - to keep the aisles free -
were abandoned as people kept filing into the hall. Hundreds stood along
the walls, in the aisles and even on the stage. Outside in the car park,
several hundred more people crowded round the National Stadium doors
listening to the PA system.
What was billed as an important gathering of activists, one week before
the government deadline for registration for their hated household tax,
had a celebratory mood. Pipers and drummers led processions of
campaigners who marched from nearby neighbourhoods into the National
The rally coincided with the release of the Mahon Tribunal report, which
was established in 1997 to investigate corruption into planning
development. Its findings clearly exposed the rotten and corrupt
relationship between Ireland’s main pro-big business political parties
and super-rich property developers. This undoubtedly added to mood of
anger amongst working class people. The rotten relationship between
politicians and big business was a key factor in the crashing of the
Irish economy and the massive and deeply unpopular austerity cuts that
The most significant aspect of the report was the fact Bertie Ahern - a
former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) and leader of Fianna Fail
(traditionally one of Ireland’s biggest pro-capitalist parties) - lied
about his personal finances. Ahern failed to provide any credible
explanation as to where he received over €200,000 from between 1993 and
1995. The day after the rally, Ahern was forced to resign from Fianna
Fail, before his imminent expulsion from the party he lead for 14 years.