Delegates from local anti Bin tax groups meet in Dublin

Monday night (September 16th 2001) saw the first real activists meeting of the Dublin Corporation area anti Bin Tax campaign. The council is sending out second demands for payment but the figures indicate that the non-payment rate is very strong, currently around 80%.

Attendance was better then expected, demonstrated by the fact that the room was packed beyond capacity with all the available standing space occupied as well as all the seats. There were somewhere over 70 people there with reports from over 12 areas.

The meeting opened with reports of local activity from anti bin tax groups in Ballyfermot, Finglas, Inchicore, Ballymun, Walkingstown, the north inner city, Rathmines, Kimmage, Stoneybatter/Cabra, the Liberties and Coolock. Groups are also established outside these areas or, as in the North and East Wall communities, the local resident groups have taken on the organisation of the non payment campaign.

Anarchists at the bin tax demo

In general all the reports indicated that in the late Spring and over the Summer the local groups have held an average of five local meetings, often in different parts of their area, have distributed tens of thousands of leaflets and have started to sign people up to the campaign. Most groups reported that the initial meetings were small, of around 20 to 30 people but that once the bills arrived in their areas they rapidly grew to 50 to 150 people.

Although many of those reporting on behalf of the local groups were members of far left parties most of those in the room were not, indicating that the campaign now has spread beyond those who were involved in initially founding it. Local politicians are obviously starting to become concerned, Eric Byrne in particular is trying to climb on the band wagon by putting a motion to the council to abolish the charges. But seeing as he has neither contacted the campaign nor has he called for non-payment its clear this is little more then a vote winning ploy.

One independent councillor Finan McGrath is at the moment playing a more positive role in relation to the campaign. He attended the meeting and requested that the campaign word a motion that he could put down at the council meeting to abolish the charges. But while its possible this sort of stunt might result in a favourable council vote the city manager would still impose the charges. So its vital that the campaign, while making use of whatever stunts are available, concentrates on maintaining mass non-payment, the only way of defeating the charges in the long term.

The most important business of the meeting was replacing the Ad Hoc Co-ordinating Committee. This was created from the meeting that launched the campaign last year and was essentially a delegate from each of the political organisations (including the Workers Solidarity Movement) that attended this meeting. We argued in recent Workers Solidarity that this structure was less then ideal and that "The time is now for local people get involved in the campaign, take ownership of it and start the resistance to this tax. Political groups will not win this campaign - direct action and mass resistance of the people will. As anarchists we are not interested in leading people to resist this double tax - we want people to feel the empowerment of taking this fight to the council themselves and taking control back of their own destiny's." What was needed, we argued, was a committee "made up of representatives from all the local groups".

The other organisations who were part of the committee and actually turned up for the meetings (some, including Sinn Fein, seldom bothered) agreed with this so the Ad Hoc Co-ordinating Committee put a motion to the meeting to set up this structure. This motion which was passed without opposition states that "the campaign will be run through regular delegate meetings - at least every month" and that "Each local group, within the campaign, elects two delegates who attend the monthly meetings and are answerable to their local group". As there is obviously a need for administration work between these meetings Mondays meeting also elected a Chairperson (Dermot Connolly), Secretary (Dermot Sreenan), Treasurer (Sheila Delaney) and Media Spokesperson (Brid Smith) to the committee. Three of these four were the most active members of the Ad Hoc Co-ordinating Committee.

Another important issue dealt with was that the campaign would join the protests against the holding of the Global Summit on Privatisation in Dublin on the 10th October in the Burlington Hotel. The imposition of the Bin Tax is part of the global neo-liberal offensive to force ordinary working people to subsidise industry and to privitise essential services so its important we protest this 2nd Annual Public-Private Partnership Initiative Global Summit. This was also accepted.

Dermot speaking

A motion was also put forward that the campaign contact the trade unions that organise workers involved in bin collections. This has already been happening in many areas with mixed results as some workers have been told their jobs will be under threat if the charges are defeated. This should be an argument that we can win though. The experience of areas outside Dublin where charges have been introduced is that they are the prelude to privatisation, and the redundancies and loss of pay and working conditions that inevitably follow. While a model resolution will be drawn up and unions like IMPACT talked to but it is essential that we continue to talk directly to the workers concerned on the local level as well.

The campaign has produced an Autumn Newsletter and local groups are distributing non-payment posters for people to display in their windows. We are also building towards a formal conference to be held in mid to late November. Various demonstrations will take place between now and then.

If you live in the Dublin Corporation area get involved and help build the campaign in your area. The Bin Charges will be defeated if strong local groups are built that can resist at the local level whatever tricks the council tries to introduce to defeat non-payment. Contact Dermot (087-627xxxx) to find out about the campaign in your area.

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )


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