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(en) Ireland, Dublin: 10 more anti-bin tax protestors jailed

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 10 Oct 2003 15:35:12 +0200 (CEST)

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Yesterday the High court jailed 10 bin tax protesters. Last
night at very short notice over 300 people protested outside
Mountjoy jail where some of them were being held. On Saturday a
Dublin Council of Trade Unions march will leave Parnell Square
around midday to march on Mountjoy jail. The 10 jailed were part
of a group of 24 activists mostly from Finglas dragged before
the courts for blockading a bin truck in solidarity with the
Fingal campaign. They refused to promise not to undertake such
actions again and to cries of 'shame' the judge sent 9 of them
down for two weeks. The tenth was a mother whom is
breast-feeding a baby, so the judge 'only' gave her one-week.

Five of the ten are men and five are women. All the women are
mothers and two are also grandmothers. Seven of the ten have no
involvement with political organisations, something that blows
apart the states claim that the campaign only exists because of
the Socialist Party. Indeed of the three political activists
only one is a Socialist Party member, the other two are members
of the Independent Socialist Network, a local network that
brings together socialists in Finglas.

This is a key moment for the Dublin campaign. Will these
jailings intimidate the campaign or will others step forward to
take their place? Last nights picket suggest the later is the
case as the crowd chanted 'Jail 12, jail us all'.

The jailing of 'ordinary people' for daring to protest is a
risky step for the state to take. Already last night the mood
had visibly changed towards the Gardai, a cop car and van that
drove through the crowd were spontaneously booed and hissed by
most of the crowd. Joe Mooney from Working Class Action made
the point from the platform that Finglas is an area that suffers
from anti-social crime, in particular joy riding, but no
injunctions had been taken against such actions.

While in the past many put forward 'more cops' as the solution
to these problems the actions of the Gardai in arresting local
residents for protesting shows where the real priorities of the
police lie. It also demonstrates the complete lack of control
local residents have over the actions or priorities of the
Gardai. Some local cops may perform these actions reluctantly
but when the orders come from above they are out there with the
rest of them pushing people around or taking names for the

Saturday's march will be very important for the campaign.
Everyone who can should try and get along, not just to march
along the route but also to talk to people about organising
local blockades. It was announced from the platform that we
would blockade the four bin truck depots on Monday, the march
will be vital in getting the numbers along to these blockades
that are needed to make them effective. While the cops have
been confident to move against 20 or 30 people blocking a truck
they allowed the Grangegorman blockade that involved 80+ to go
ahead without any serious attempt to intervene.

The numbers willing to take action will decide the faith of the
campaign. Not everyone is willing or able to go to jail, this is
understood. Indeed out of the dozens dragged before the courts
to date only 12 have chosen to go to jail, the rest had to
promise to blockade no more trucks. There should be no pressure
on people to be willing to go to jail, rather as has already
happened the campaign should legally aid those who wish to avoid
jail and support those who decide they are willing to go to jail
on this issue.

What we need are big blockades, ones where the Gardai will feel
unable to collect names for the courts without risking serious
trouble. In any case the jails, in particular the women's
prison, is already overcrowded. Rumours last night were that to
make room for the 10 jailed last night some prisoners had to be
given early release. They may be able to jail another dozen but
there is no way they can jail the thousands involved in the

What is needed is for everyone to get involved in the blockades
at the level they feel is appropriate for them. There is a lot
more confidence in a crowd of a hundred or more then there is
when a dozen block a truck or depot. We need numbers so don't
wait for non-collection to arrive in your street. Get out and
support blockades anywhere in your area. If you don't know where
they are contact your local campaign and ask to be notified of
them. Or simply get together with your neighbours and arrange
your own.

These arrests will also add to the pressure on the unions to
take action against the suppression of the campaign. Most unions
now have policy on paper in opposition to bin charges. But over
15 years of social partnership means that most of the union
leadership will not initiate any action, indeed in many cases
they have been working to prevent groups of workers taking
action. If there is to be a work stoppage it needs to be
organised from below with the help of the handful of union
officials who may help to organise such action.

The jailings show the government is very serious about defeating
the anti-bin tax movement. The bin-tax is the tip of an iceberg
of government policy that will see taxation transferred even
further onto the shoulders of ordinary workers. We already pay
80% of direct taxation; the government is trying to ensure that
corporations and the rich pay next to nothing.

This is what lies at the core of this struggle. What sort of
country do we want to live in? Is it one where health services
are cut while ordinary workers see soaring taxes to subsidise
big business. Or is it one where the rich are taxed in order to
fund the public services we all need.

As an anarchist I have a vision of a future world that goes
beyond this, one where there will be neither rich nor poor, nor
leaders or led. But this struggle is raising the immediate
question of what sort of world we want. There are many answers
to this; the first objective for all must be the defeat of the
bin tax.

Joe Black

[report by WSM member]

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