Republican News · Thursday 20 July 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Waste charge campaigns gear up again


Last week, Dublin Councillors voted to make every householder in the city poorer by 120 to 150 a year, when they voted to introduce waste charges across the city. Dublin Corporation intends to continue its waste collection service but to make householders pay for a service which to date they have received free.

``Its a double tax on householders, which will rise, year by year,'' says Christy Burke. ``It is an outrage which the Dublin people will oppose, just as they did the previous efforts by Dublin Corporation to tax people through water rates.

``What makes the tax all the more disgraceful is that it is introduced on the basis that Dublin City intends to introduce what the manager has called `a better way of waste management'. If you examine the small print, it is all aspirational. The corporation is talking about a larger number of banks, to which householders, themselves, can take various separated rubbish, like paper, bottles, tins and so on. Everything is for the future, including composting of organic waste, and door to door collection of separated waste.''

Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Sinn Féin Dublin's South Central representative, said on Tuesday (18 July) that the Corpo is starting to deliver the wheelie bins in Crumlin/Walkinstown area next week. Some residents already have them.

Criticising the recent decision by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors to levy a tax on bin collection, Ó Snodaigh said: ``The public already pay for their services (water, sewers and rubbish collections) through their income tax and VAT. Sinn Féin councillors on Dublin Corporation opposed the bin tax and Sinn Féin is committed to continuing its opposition.

``Charging the ordinary public for their rubbish will not make it go away. Household rubbish accounts for only 16% of Dublin's waste. The large producers of waste: industry, offices, retailers and suppliers who overpackage everything, must be forced to reduce waste at source, to recycle and reuse materials. They, and the government, with a 6 billion budget surplus, must take responsiblity to implement an environemtally-friendly waste management strategy.

``The ill-conceived tax on rubbish and the introduction of black wheelie bins in the Dublin Corporation area seems to be dictated by penny-pinching rather than by a desire to enhance our environment. Employing less workers and charging the public for their waste, which will fill the coffers of Dublin Corporation, is not a solution, nor is the proposed waste incinerator. That is avoiding the problem and will be a health risk. Therefore it would cost more in the long run than if they implemented a comprehensive, environmentally-friendly strategy now.''

Campaigns in Cork and Limerick

Campaigns against refuse charges have begun in several major cities, including Cork and Limerick. In Limerick, there was a strong protest last week at the election of the new Mayor, Labour Party councillor John Ryan, who seconded Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan's original motion to introduce waste charges in the city. There have been meetings attended by several hundred people in Ballinacura, Ballinanty, Janesboro and Kings Island to fight the waste charges and the privatisation of bin collection. Sinn Féin's Muiris Ó Súilleabháin says the campaign is just beginning.

In Cork, some service charges have been maintained since 1983, although the water charge component had to be dropped when people in Dublin won their campaign and the government was forced to abolish them for all. However, many have refused to pay the bills that have been sent to householders in Cork City, according to Joe Moore, President of the Cork Trades Council.

The Corporation has now taken the further step of sending out stickers for the wheelie bins denoting that people have paid their charges. They are refusing to collect refuse from houses without stickers. Confusion resulted, with the tops of wheelie bins with stickers exchanged for those without. Some of those people who had paid did not get their waste collected, while those who hadn't paid had their rubbish collected. People were enraged.

There was a meeting of several hundred people at the Town Hall last Monday, where residents dumped their rubbish on the Corporation steps. On Tuesday, campaigners against waste charges followed the bin collectors around and filled the truck with waste left behind by the binmen. This provoked confusion, with supervisers, more supervisers, and then an engineer summoned to the scene, who then summoned the gardai, who summoned more gardai, and a superintentent, who finally negotiated a compromise, as local people brought tea and refreshments to the protestors, that the bin men would call it all off for the day.

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