Ireland Republic: Anti bin tax campaign – South Dublin County Council Residents resist Bin Tax

To defeat non-collection, large mobilisations in the communities that result in widespread disruption of the service and massive co-ordinated political pressure are necessary. The campaign in South Dublin is at a decisive stage.

Anti bin tax campaign

Tag system resisted

Since the start of February the residents of South Dublin County Council (SDCC) have faced the same onslaught of non-collection as those in Fingal did last winter. In a regrettable development the bin workers helped clear the way for the bin tax by agreeing to participate in non-collection and the tag system on 30 January.

SDCC have issued a large number of waivers in an attempt to get the tax established. For other households they are issuing yellow stickers if people come to an agreement regarding the paying of arrears, which must be accompanied by a tag if the bin is to be collected. They are trying to impose this system ridgidly.

In the first week the majority of households either did not tag or did not present their bins for collection as a clear sign that they did not support the tax. To show the lengths that the Council were prepared to go, they wrote to campaign activists citing that certain leaflets and letters were an illegal breach of the High Court injunction and threatening committal proceedings. So much for the right to free speech. The indications are that industrial action by the bin workers themselves would be outlawed on the basis of the extensive injunction the High Court gave.

Community protests

Undeterred activists in Whitechurch, Templeogue, Greenhills, St. Dominics, Oldbawn, Kilnamanagh, Spring-field, Jobstown, Clondalkin and Palmerstown mobilised to try to ensure that the bins of non-payers were collected and to protest.
Trucks have been tracked down and slow marched around to facilitate activists in dumping the rubbish or stopped for significant periods. Once again the garda’ have been very quick to assist the Council in imposing the tax. Socialist Party members have been to forefront in the battle.

Fighting non-collection and a tag system is difficult. Most people do not believe that they can organise an alternative to the council bin service on an indefinite basis. That’s why when generalised non-collection is imposed, a limited time frame opens up in which either the Council is forced to retreat or the campaign tends to be pushed back.

To defeat non-collection, large mobilisations in the communities that result in widespread disruption of the service and massive co-ordinated political pressure are necessary. The campaign in South Dublin is at a decisive stage.

Political pressure

It is vital that working class communities see the general significance of the bin tax campaign and the real role of all the establishment parties on this issue. It is very important that activists get organised on an area by area and estate by estate basis. The public meetings held throughout the Council area in the week before non-collection was implemented were attended by well over a thousand residents. That shows the potential that exists.

The parties, in particular Fianna Fail, must feel the full force of the opposition against all the stealth taxes that are really eating into people’s wages.
It is vital that the campaign in South Dublin fights non-collection as fully as it can. Political initiatives are already underway. Leaflets explaining the role of Fianna Fail are being dropped into houses that have been affected by non-collection.

In Tallaght, large posters are being put up which "Name and Shame" the Fianna Fail public representatives. Such political protests should be implemented in all areas in the run in to the local elections in June.

"Bullying Tactics, the Sequel" by Dublin City Council

True to form, Dublin City Council has now employed a debt collector to try and scare people into paying the bin tax.

Thousands of households all over Dublin have received letters from Legal and Trade, a debt collection agency based on the Navan Road, in the form of "draft summonses".

This is a new low in the Council’s disgraceful bullying tactics. "Draft summonses" have no legal standing whatsoever. Only a court can issue a summons. The campaign has and continues to provide legal advice and representation to anybody who receives a summons. The campaign is also challenging the validity of Dublin City’s bin tax in the courts. When people were first taken to court in 2002, the campaign lawyers kicked this issue into touch for two years by challenging the judgement in the High Court.

For two years, this prevented the Council from using the courts to break non-payment. A similar challenge in the High Court is now being prepared, which will hopefully tie the Council further up in knots.

This would be an important stalling tactic for the campaign. It seems more and more clear that the Council is not prepared, so close to the local elections, to implement non-collection. Even in areas where they tried to implement non-collection before Christmas they have reverted to collection of all bins.

Clearly the campaign has been able to give the politicians the jitters and until after the local elections they are wishing this issue away. We can’t let them get away with this. The elections in June should be used to punish Fianna F‡il and the other establishment parties that support the bin tax.

There is no doubt, however, that once the elections are over, the issue of non-collection will be on the agenda. It is up to the local campaigns now to use the local elections to put extra pressure on the politicians but crucially to prepare for what will follow after June.

Strengthening the active base of the campaign all over the city is still key. It is essential that in all areas there is a network of local people committed to organise their neighbours and friends to come out on the streets to stop non-collection once they dare implement it in our communities.

From Socialist Voice, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in Ireland

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February 2004