The Householders Against Service Charges (HASC) responded by dumping the uncollected rubbish on the steps of City Hall every Monday. Unpaid fines arising from the dumping led to the courts and eventually to imprisonment for myself, Joe Moore and Michael Joyce.
We had arranged with the relevant warrant officers in our local Gardaí barracks for handing ourselves in on a Wednesday. There was a lot of media interest and a lot of coverage. Objective one was achieved without much hassle.
Cork prison is full, overcrowded in fact. Nearly everything I expected about the place turned out to be true. The population is overwhelmingly working class; Travellers are over represented, making up about 10% of the prisoners, confirming the nature of the society outside the walls. Visits are taken in a seriously inadequate room where prisoners are forbidden physical contact with visitors whether children, parents or lovers. The noise levels in the visiting room make conversation difficult and privacy impossible. The cells are small and slopping out your regular morning chore, as in cell plumbing does not exist, except I am told in the punishment block. The punishment block of course is cited by prisoners as the main obstacle to them protesting conditions and many of those we talked to want to, some had with obvious consequences. Rehabilitation efforts are minuscule and recreational facilities poor.
We were just there a few days but the boredom is numbing. Being locked in a cell for over 16 hours a day is no joke. We were given special treatment, that is not in doubt, so my experience was limited by this and the duration of the stay.
Regular protests whilst we were inside, solidarity emails and protests and all the media stuff insured that the jailings generated a lot of heat. The following week we expected that two women members of the campaign would be arrested as arranged with their local Gardaí stations. At the last minute the Gardaí refused to arrest them, on the instructions of the Gardaí Commissioner it is reported. The establishment had cracked under the pressure faced with the outcry over the first three arrests they were not prepared to go again. This has provided a great boost to the campaign. The key now is to build up an active membership prepared to resist the bin tax. The process of discussing the best tactics is ongoing. The growth of a campaign in Dublin and throughout the state gives great encouragement to everyone. Building that campaign so it can achieve victory is where we are at.
(Householders Against Service Charges - personal capacity)