Huge Drogheda protest meeting
Over 500 people crowded into a packed hall last week at the
Westcourt Hotel, Drogheda, and hundreds more queued back into the
street, for a meeting called to protest the privatisation of refuse
collection in the town. There hadn't been anything like it since the
Pope visited the town.
All the speakers supported the town's binmen, who went on official strike against the privatisation of their service last Friday, 21 January, when free Corporation collections throughout the town stopped and the Dundalk-based Wheelie Bins Ltd., which had up until then rented Drogheda Corporation the bin lorries and wheelie bins for some 9,000 residents, attempted to take over refuse collection, charging householders £90 for the privilege.
Speakers recalled the water rates campaign in the town and their long, and successful campaign, and paid tribute to the huge crowd that came to the meeting. All supported what Nora Rafferty, an ordinary householder said, that ``all is possible through the power of the people''.
``When you voted for these councillors you lost your power,'' said Sinn Féin's John Doyle, who came to support Drogheda from the Bray Campaign against Privatisation. All the councillors, without one dissenting voice had agreed the estimates which excluded any provision for refuse collection. ``We have to take that power back. Keep the rubbish, Get rid of the council,'' he said.
Sinn Féin Louth County Councillor Arthur Morgan pointed out that none of Drogheda's councillors appears able to stand up to the County Manager John Quinlivan, who was the object of the most venomous accusations by the speakers at the meeting, for the ``underhand'' way in which the Corporation had gone about attempting to privatise.
householders for a problem not of their making. As Arthur Morgan said, the government should be giving incentives to householders to separate rubbish to encourage waste management, not enabling private companies to hold people to ransom with ever increasing waste collection charges.
The people decided unanimously, at the Westcourt Hotel meeting, to call on the councillors to propose a section 4 motion, at their next meeting on 7 February instructing Quinlivan to reinstate the refuse service.