Irish Republican News · December 16, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: ‘Boycott the charge’ campaign launched
‘Boycott the charge’ campaign launched
boycottcharge.jpg

A campaign by members of the Dublin parliament to boycott the 100 euro household charge is “a very dangerous road for our democracy”, according to the coalition government.

Homeowners are likely to end up paying between up to 600 euro a year as the charge is ramped up over coming years.

A group of eleven TDs drawn from the United Left Alliance and Independents, has launched the campaign to convince the public to ignore the new austerity tax, set to be levied on almost every household in the state from next year.

So far, two Sinn Fein TDs have said they will also not pay the charge.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan described the campaign as “irresponsible and inappropriate”.

“I think those TDs should pull back from this irresponsible activity where they are advocating, as lawmakers, that Irish people break the law. It is a very dangerous road for our democracy,” he said.

Householders face a fine of up to 2,500 euro if they fail to register before the March 31 deadline. The fine will still be applied even if the homeowner has passed away, Minister Hogan declared, insisting the 2,500 euro fee will still be applied the estate of the deceased.

The nine who launched the boycott were: Clare Daly and Joe Higgins (Socialist Party); Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins (People Before Profit); and Independents Seamus Healy, Thomas Pringle, Mick Wallace, Luke Flanagan and John Halligan.

The deputies, together with a number of councillors, vowed that they would rather go to jail than pay a tax described as “repressive”.

The government characterised the opposition, particularly the threat to boycott the charge, as a “cynical and emotive public relations stunt”.

Sinn Fein has stated its opposition to the charge but has not publicly advocated non-payment. Two Sinn Fein TDs -- Aengus O Snodaigh and Dessie Ellis -- have said they have taken personal decisions not to pay the charge.

Ms Daly said: “Against the background of three years of massive austerity, this is the line in the sand. This is the first opportunity for people to say that enough is enough.”

Socialist Party/United Left Alliance TD Joe Higgins warned of a mass boycott, saying there is a huge campaign calling on Ireland’s 1.6 million householders to refuse to pay the charge.

“This is their opportunity to have their own referendum on these erroneous austerity policies,” Mr Higgins told the government.

“Do you know that the attitude of the people out there is if you bring one to court on March 31, they will all go?

“Our people will be taking a leaf, actually, from the history pages of your own county, when the people stood up and resisted the unfair, unjust extortion of landlords,” he said.

“You will be the new Captain Boycott of austerity in this country.”

Separately, landlords have insisted tenants must pay the charge, as well as a new tax on second and multiple property ownership.

The Irish Property Owners’ Association, which represents landlords’ interests, made the demand. Ir appeared to have the support of Minister Hogan when he said it was up to landlords to decide whether they wished to collect the money from their tenants.

“The owner of the property is responsible within the legislation to ensure the money is paid... What arrangements they enter into with tenants is their business,” he said.

SCANDALS

The government’s efforts to squeeze more cash out of the poorest members of society came as new corruption and delinquency scandals continued to emerge from the state’s so-called elites.

Among the latest controversies to hit the heaadlines in the last week are the “maladministration” by the Department of Education of a EU fund for retraining workers, which has seen over 50 million euro lost to the department -- even as 428 teaching posts have been axed by the Department from schools servicing poor and disadvantaged areas.

There is also a renewed scandal over a trade union slush fund operated during the economic boom by the powerful SIPTU trade union. At least five million euro, and possibly a larger sum, has now been found to have been channelled through the bogus ‘Siptu National Health and Local Authority Levy fund’ from various government sources. The money was used to corruptly subsidise junkets and other fraudulent ‘expenses’ for well-connected union and government officials.

And the so-called ‘smart economy’ was used as a cover for a major tax avoidance scheme based on bogus patent licenses, it has emerged. It is estimated the giant tax loophole was used by major firms and wealthy individuals to avoid paying tax on traditional income, to the tune of at least a billion euro.

But despite being mired in controversy, the government easily passed the new household charge through the Dublin parliament on Wednesday night, thanks to the full support of the Labour Party.

CAUTION URGED

Sinn Fein Social Protection spokesperson Aengus O Snodaigh TD told the Dail this week said he will not be paying the Household Charge “as a personal family decision in the full knowledge that he may face fines and the tax of 2,500 euro”.

He said the “scabbiest” waiver scheme ever had seen only limited exclusions for residents of ghost [abandoned] housing developments and those on mortgage interest supplement. But he did not want to advise people to take on the state in this matter.

“While it would be easy for me to jump on the “don’t pay” campaign bandwagon I am urging caution, that people should understand or be made aware of the possible full consequence of taking such a stance,” he said.

He hoped he didn’t want to see a situation which many people are facing as a result of supporting the “don’t pay the bin charges” campaign.

“They were encouraged not to pay and are now facing in some cases nearly 2,000 euro in charges and the campaign has all but disappeared,” he said.

He was standing against the Household Charge “with all others of like mind” and would organise with those who will take a similar stance.

“This tax is unfair and as our pre-budget alternative has shown, not required and so should not be introduced,” he said.

© 2011 Irish Republican News