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(en) Organise! (Ireland) Working Class Resistance - WCR #3 - INTERVIEW: AN ANTI-BIN TAX ACTIVIST

From Al S <klasbatalemo@yahoo.ie>
Date Wed, 10 Dec 2003 22:36:19 +0100 (CET)


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Terry from Working Class Resistance talks to Dermot
Sreenan, Anti-Bin Tax Activist, Anarchist and Workers
Solidarity Movement member, about recent activity and
the state of the campaign against bin charges in
Dublin. The interview took place on the 18th of October.
So Dermot, what did you spend the start of the week doing?
There were a couple of meetings and then there was two
blockades on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was involved in
the Grangegorman one, in the North inner city, there
were simultaneously blockades in the three other
depots in the city area, and also on others in the
south county Dublin area. So effectively there were
seven depots blockaded.

So you are blockading the bin trucks as they come out
of the depots now, not as they a going around the
estates?

Yeah, we decided to go directly to the source. This
was to escalate the campaign and to show solidarity
around the different areas, it effectively shut down
the city for two whole days. The reason it was
successful, to a large extent, was because of the
level of co-operation from the workers. The argument
has been won within the depots that this is ultimately
leading to privatisation and job losses.

There are 15 people now in prison - what’s the popular
reaction to that been, and what’s the reaction to it
been within the campaign?

The actual anti-bin charges campaign itself has been
pushed into the situation where people have been
forced to break the law, because they have changed the
laws so often around this specific issue. People got
injuncted specifically ‘cause they didn’t want people
to be stopping the bin trucks. This follows three
years of them changing the law, like them bringing in
the ‘protection of the environment’ bill which meant
they could start implementing non-collection. It’s a
very difficult, complicated situation, but those
people knew exactly what they were getting into before
they went to court. They were ordinary peaceful
protestors the state has gone out of its way to
criminalise. They were quite prepared to pay the price
- which in most cases is two weeks in prison.

Has the movement grown because of the arrests and
imprisonment's - is there a sympathetic popular
reaction?

Yeah I think there is, its very difficult to assess
that through the media who have been on a witch-hunt
against us for the last two weeks at least - and maybe
longer. On the ground people are still quite prepared
to continue with the campaign. Imprisonment hasn’t
succeeded from the states point of view because it
hasn’t frightened people back into their houses and
made people start writing big cheques for the money
that they ‘owe’ in back taxes.
In fact we’ve seen bigger attendance at meetings, in a
couple of areas I’d be involved in, like Cabra, there
have been meetings with several hundred people in the
local GAA club and in Stoneybatter, which isn’t a big
area, there have been meetings of 50 to 75 people at
different times. People are still prepared to get
involved, and I think an air of confidence is building
around the movement. The state has gone out to get
this movement and it hasn’t succeeded - so people have
actually became more confident.

But what about the environmental issue - there's a
massive amount of landfill out there, and a massive
amount of waste being produced, should people not be
made to pay for their rubbish collection so as to act
as an encouragement to produce less rubbish?

OK, the age old argument that the polluter pays. It’s
constantly churned out in the media that we don’t have
a position on this but in fact in the last two years
at both our annual conferences we’ve had discussions
and debates on the environment and people are actually
quite concerned about the environment. We are keen to
see landfill being used less, but that is not the
governments perspective.
What they are trying to do is to get us to pay for a
public service so they can generate profits and then
ultimately privatise it. Private industry and big
business has no interest in protection of the
environment just as they have no interest in
collecting the bins of a pensioner who can’t afford to
pay whatever the new charge would be.

What do you say to those who feel that the proper way
of going about changing this would be the democratic
way - like all of youse in the campaign have the vote?

When the parties came ‘round looking for a vote this
wasn’t on the agenda - it wasn’t like they were
actually goin’ around sayin’ “oh yeah, we’re gonna
start privatising public services and we’re askin’ you
to pay more money for it”. When it did come up the
campaign was quite successfully involved in lobbying
and trying to change the minds of a lot of the
political parties and councillors on the issue. We
actually had the city council split straight down the
middle with 23 opposing charges and 23 in favour.
Y’know the usual suspects were in favour, Fianna Fail,
Fine Gael and the PDs, needless to say the parties in
power were in favour of it. We pushed the Labour Party
to be against it, and some of the independents and
Sinn Fein. The then Lord Mayor, Dermot Lacey, who was
actually in the Labour Party, and should have been
against it, had the casting vote and voted for the
charge. So we’ve been down the road of trying to
influence and trying to change the minds of our great
leaders, but it hasn’t worked. The campaign has been
pushed into a situation where we have to take matters
into our own hands and take some power back in this
dispute and prevent the council picking off each
individual area. Which is what they are trying to do,
they are going to areas like Ballsbridge where 153
Euro a year to the average person who lives there
isn’t really that much money, whereas to someone who
lives in Finglas it can be quite a considerable
amount. So they are going to the rich areas and doing
non-collection there ‘cause they realise most of the
people there have paid, but what we are doing is that
we are refusing to let them go in and pick off
individual areas, because eventually they are going to
come to our areas where we are strong and implement
non-collection there. So ours is a tactic of “one bin
all bins”, that’s the motto, our catch phrase of the
moment.

So do you believe you can really take on the
authorities and win?

Yeah, ‘cause it’s been done before. It’s not an easy
task but it’s something which can be done and I hope
it will encourage other people around the country to
start up campaigns. I think Cork is bringing a
campaign together again. So I hope that even in areas
where services are privatised that people would be
encouraged by what is happening in Dublin and start
considering not cutting a cheque the next time a bill
arrives in.
Why I’m confident that we can actually take on the
authorities and win is ‘cause we’ve done it before. We
did it with the water charges and we can do it again.
We are getting a lot of people involved and once you
have serious numbers and people prepared to put up
with the constant harassment of the state, even to the
extent that they are prepared to go to prison and
serve time, then you are talking about a very strong,
determined, wilful campaign and you can’t defeat that
very easily, despite all the power that resides within
the authorities.

BIN WARS = CLASS WAR

The campaign against the bin-tax in Dublin has seen,
despite a hostile media and arrests, an upsurge of
community resistance to the government. Direct
democracy and direct action are the order of the day
as a mixture of meetings, protests and blockades are
co-ordinated to bring about successful city-wide
disruption.
This has got the government on the run, shock horror
stories about ‘Anarchists’ in the campaign, and
non-payment as the road to ‘Anarchy’ have appeared in
the media. Anarchists should be proud of their
involvement in this campaign, as to non-payment
setting us on the road to ‘Anarchy’ lets take them up
on that!

Meanwhile, on the 4th November 6 more Bin Tax
protesters were jailed and fined up to 1500 Euro each.
On top of that the previous day a number of other
people were fined 250 Euro even though they were not
in contempt of court.

The majority of people in Dublin are against this
double-tax and the harder they try to crush it the
more the resistance will grow. The Government have
asked their friends in the media to conduct a
witch-hunt against the campaign. This is because
there is a genuine fear by the authorities that they
could lose. Lets remember that and ensure that we
continue to take the fight to them by maintaining
non-payment and preventing non-collection.

BIN TAX PRISONERS - SET THEM FREE

November 2003. Organise! - Working Class Resistance
P.O. Box 505, Belfast, BT12 6BQ.
The next edition will be ready by early February 2004.


******************************************************
Welcome to Working Class Resistance. The appearance of
this publication marks the coming together of the
Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation, Anarchist Federation
(Ireland), Anarchist Prisoner Support and a number of
individuals to create a more effective and better
resourced class struggle anarchist organisation across
Ireland. Together we have created a new organisation,
Organise! - Working Class Resistance, with local
groups and individual members across Ireland.
******************************************************

>From the pages of Working Class Resistance, bulletin
of Organise!. To distribute in your area, contact
Organise! at:

organiseireland@yahoo.ie

Organise!
PO Box 505
BELFAST,
BT12 6BQ


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