Yesterday afternoon a judge in the High Court in Dublin granted Fingal council a permanent injunction against fifteen anti-bin tax campaign activists including ten Socialist Party members.
This legal order prevents those named from “obstructing” the council from doing its work in collecting rubbish. However, the reason why the anti-bin tax campaign took the step of blockading refuse trucks was that the council had refused to collect the rubbish of all those residents who had joined the campaign of mass non-payment and refused to pay the bin tax. The slogan of the campaign has been “Collect all bins or none”.
However, much more seriously the judge granted the Council the right to institute further legal proceedings against Joe Higgins MP and Councillor Clare Daly this Friday if they felt they had broken the injunction.
As Joe Higgins and Clare Daly left the court and approached representatives of all of Ireland’s national press and media, they were handed legal papers demanding they attend a court hearing on Friday. This hearing will lead to a prison sentence and possible fines perhaps running into thousands of euros.
This will be the first time in decades that public representatives have gone to prison in defence of working class interests.
The legal action taken by Fingal council is directed from the office of Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and his right-wing Fine Fail government. The government realises that in order to implement the bin tax (as a first step to a vast increase in local taxation and privatisation of council services in the whole of Dublin and then throughout Ireland) they have to attempt to strike a blow against the area in which the campaign is strongest. This is in Fingal council in north and west Dublin where Socialist Party members, including Joe and Clare, have a long record of playing a leading role in the anti-bin tax campaign along with many community activists. Both Joe and Clare represent a new tradition in Irish politics – representatives who fight in the interests of the working class and refused to bought off by the establishment.
It also represents an attempt by the government to intimidate any section of workers who may be contemplating action against this increasingly hated administration.
However, tens of thousands of workers and young people will be enraged by threat to imprison Joe and Clare. If, as likely the courts go ahead and jail Joe and Clare it will be correctly seen as a huge attack on the democratic right to protest and organise. This threat to Joe and Clare could act as a catalyst to develop mass opposition to the bin tax and could force the government to make concessions.
The anti-bin tax campaign is calling for protests outside the courts on Friday and local demonstrations in Fingal. The Committee for a Workers’ International is calling on all socialists and activists internationally to protest about this draconian action at Irish embassy in their countries. International protest will also have an affect on the Irish government. We will post further information as it is received.
- No to the jailing of Joe Higgins and Clare Daly! Drop the injunctions!
- For the democratic right to protest and organise!
- No to stealth taxation and privatisation of local services!
- Defeat the Bin Tax!