MOMENTUM gathered for the anti household charge campaign in Offaly as over 100 opponents of the household and water charges attended a meeting in Tullamore to discuss ways of stepping up the protest campaign.
Last week’s meeting was organised by the Campaign Against Household & Water Taxes (CAHWT) to co-ordinate a mass non payment against the €100 household, which came into effect on January 1 last, across the county.
So far, approximately 75,000 households have registered to pay the charge nationally. Last week’s meeting, held in Tullamore GAA centre, saw people gather to hear Gregor Kerr of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, TD outline why people should not pay the annual charge as well as organising local groups in Offaly to campaign against the charge.
Ray Fitzpatrick, the night’s MC, welcomed Mr Kerr and Deputy Flanagan to Tullamore. Addressing the crowd, Mr Kerr maintained that the Government’s claim that the household charge would be used to fund local services was “just in fact smoke and mirrors”.
“There is going to be no more money for local services. The money will be used to pay the debt dumped on us.” The campaigner claimed that this was a “home tax”. and bears no relation to the householders’ ability to pay.
Noting the various meetings around the country on this issue, Mr Kerr enthused that people are turning up to get organise, “not just to give out”, in their own counties. He then went onto explain the various possibilities of what will happen to people, who chose not to pay the household tax.
There is a 10% late charge for the first 6 months, a 20% late charge for the second six months and a 30% late charge after that. There is also an extra 1% charge for each month which equates to a penalty of 42 in a year.
Mr Kerr also pointed out the fines for non registration, which he said is not an automatic fine against a householder as the local authority would have to take the person to court and the court would have to find against you, in which case the householder could receive a ‘Class C’ fine, up to a maximum of €2,500.
“Imagine a situation where one million people, who haven’t registered, being taken to court,” he noted, adding that householders, who haven’t paid, would more then like be “cherry picked”. “The power is our numbers. We should make sure that if the unlucky person, who has to go to court, we are should be in court with them.”
According to Mr Kerr, the campaign has now to build itself in every single place and community. “This can be defeated by the ordinary people if we stand together. It is a campaign of solidarity with a base in every community.”
Concluding, the speaker urged people to get involved in what he described as a “battle to build this campaign”.
Roscommon/South Leitrim TD, Luke Flanagan, then took to the floor to encourage people to “come along with this campaign and stop putting up with all this crap we have been putting up over the last few years”.
Continuing, the Roscommon/Leitrim TD said it was “bad enough that the money will not end up in your council. It is bad enough that it will end up in their pockets. You will not have absolutely no say on what happens to it.” And, like the previous speaker, Deputy Flanagan also pointed out that the household charge is not “money for local services”.
Telling the meeting to take inspiration from the recent reversal of the septic tank charge, Deputy Flanagan believed it was time to stop it as “people have been lied to for too long”.
The protest meeting was then opened to the floor and heard many local people voiced their anger at the Government in relation to the household charge as well as many other issues of the day including unemployment and the septic tank charge.
Before it concluded, the organisers put the wheels in motion to organise the anti payment campaign locally by taking the advice of the national campaign on how to co-ordinate the boycotting of the charge into communities across Offaly.
CAHWT Public Meetings
Wednesday, February 15 at 8pm: Mountmellick Community and Arts Centre
Wednesday, February 22 at 8pm: Foy’s Function Room, Edenderry
Thursday, February 23 at 8pm:The Oratory, Cappincur
Friday, February 24 at 8pm: Dooly’s Hotel, Birr