Mick Barry is the sixth member of Householders Against The Service Charges (HASC) to be jailed in the current protest. Last week, Joe Power another activist with the campaign served a three day sentence as part of the same campaign. It emerged during the course of Joe Power's arrest and detention at Cork Prison that there has been a change of approach from the Prison Service/ Gardai and Cork Corporation to the jailings. To date some leniency has been shown to protesters who have been jailed - in terms of visits, prison clothes, prison food and cell conditions. All of these so-called 'privileges' have now been withdrawn and jailed HASC activists are having to endure cramped conditions as well as being forced to wear prison clothes. Clearly pressure - it wouldn't take much - has been put on the prison authorities to maximise the distress to activists during their prison time. Speaking after his release last Thursday, Joe Power undeterred. 'If time has to be done, it has to be done. I am not paying the tax.'
Meanwhile HASC in Cork has been drawing up a balance sheet on the state of its campaign against the tax in Cork. Despite the jailings and the aggressive stand of City Hall, the conclusion was that the campaign is in good condition. Over the pass few months we have received un-precedented publicity. It has also emerged that:
*** Cork Corporation has not extended its non-collection of rubbish policy in the Cork area in the past 9 months. There appear to be uncertainty at City Hall about how to proceed.
*** Corporation workers in defiance of City Hall have been collecting _all_ rubbish in many 'sticker only' zones
*** There has been no attempt in the past 6 month by City Hall to harass HASC activists that are dumping rubbish at City Hall at the regular Monday night protest. Although content to allow all current 'prosecutions' to proceed to prison terms, it appears that Cork Corporation is shy of any further tangles in the courts. It is widely recognised that the jailings of the HASC activists has been a 'publicity disaster' for City Hall. It also appear definite that City Hall or one of its lackeys paid the outstanding fine of Marie Hayes; City Hall was widely condemned when it jailed activist Sandra Condon in June.
*** With City Hall likely to increase the bin tax charges further over the next while, HASC has identified that there is a clear opportunity to build the campaign over the next period.
As with pervious jailings, HASC calls on you to show solidarity with our campaign by any of the following:
HASC is calling a protest for today (Thurs.) at 5.30 pm outside the City Hall Cork (Anglesea Street). Bring banners and placards. Further protests will be held every afternoon at 5.30 pm for as long as the detention last.
We need to let Cork Corporation and the city's councillors know that this sort of action is a disgrace. Any protest or solidarity action is appreciated. Please organise or do what you can. We have put some suggestions below:
What you can do: > Attend the above protest or send a solidarity message to firstname.lastname@example.org (or to HASC, 55 North Main Street, Cork). > Organise a solidarity protest in your area. Let others know about the issue by what whatever means you have. Spread the word - Stop The Jailing! > Send an email to Cork Corporation (email@example.com) protesting at their action - details to follow. > Contact your local and national media. Raise the issue of this draconian action by Cork Corporation. > Contact your union and ask about what it is doing about the jailing
Kevin Doyle (on behalf of HASC, 55 North Main Street, Cork.) firstname.lastname@example.org
**************************** Background Information ****************************
Since February of this year Cork Corporation have jailed five activists with the HASC campaign. All five - Joe Moore, James McBarron, Michael Joyce, Sandra Condon and Joe Power have been fined by the Cork District Court under the Litter Act. They were ordered to pay the fined within 28 days or face jail. All the activists, as part of the ongoing campaign against the 'Bin Charges' (see below for further details), have pledged not to pay the fines.
In mid-March, Cork Corporation refused to pass a motion calling on the City Manager to terminate the prosecution of the HASC activists. Instead, throughout March and April, Cork Corporation proceeded with a further round of prosecutions. Now a total of 13 people face jail for periods ranging between 3 and 5 days. All have pledged not to the pay 'the Litter fine' and are committed to defying this unjust law and tax.
THE ISSUES - Litter Fines a new criminalisation policy by Cork Corpo!
The above court fines under the Litter Pollution Act (1997) arise out of HASC's policy of dumping uncollected domestic rubbish outside Cork City Hall every Monday night at 7.30 pm. However HASC denies that it is engaged in any act of 'littering'. Since mid-August 2000, the Corporation has instituted a policy of not collecting the rubbish of any household in the Cork city area that is refusing to pay its yearly 'Bin Charge' (currently set at £140 per year.) This Bin Tax is a unilateral and NEW tax imposed on workers and their families, despite the fact that PAYE workers in Ireland already shoulder the biggest part of the country's tax bill. Irish workers already pay for the upkeep of water, refuse and general public services. They already pay the major share for the upkeep of hospitals, schools and roads. Why should they accept a further round of tax levies? THEY HAVE PAID FOR THE SERVICE ONCE ALREADY!
In recent years, Ireland has been riven with tax scandals and corruption. Only this past fortnight, the Government has introduced another 'amnesty' for major tax evasion - the THIRD MAJOR AMNESTY FOR THE RICH. Clearly the Govt is intent on looking after its own cronies in big business. Its seems that if your are a MAJOR tax cheat, you can expect to get away with a small rap on the knuckles. However if you are a worker and you stand by your right to pay only a 'fair share' of the tax burden, you get slapped in jail, right away.
Last Summer, Cork Corporation went on the offensive in its campaign to make Cork workers foot the bill for the collection of domestic rubbish. They refused to 'collect' the rubbish of any house where the bill for the Bin Tax was outstanding. They issued 'collection stickers' for those households who were 'paid up' and instructed Corporation workers not to collect the rubbish from any house 'that was not displaying a paid up sticker.' This action by Cork Corporation has been described as 'illegal and hazardous' by HASC and IT IS for this reason the campaign has taken the unusual step of organising for 'uncollected rubbish' to be left at Cork City Hall (where the Corporation offices are) so that the Corporation can see for itself the consequences of its unreasonable and hazardous behaviour. On foot of these weekly 'dumping protests' by HASC (now ongoing for nearly 11 months), the Corporation has issue multiply fines under the Litter Act to those participating in the protests. The court cases on Feb 15th arose out of the non-payment of these fines and were initiated and carried forward at the instigation of Cork Corporation, a publicly elected body!
PRESSURE MUST BE BROUGHT TO BEAR ON CORK CORPORATION!
Do the people of Cork, who elected the current Corporation, support these threatened jailing? No way! Have the people of Cork even been asked their opinions on the matter? Not on your life! In fact many of the councillors now sitting on the Corporation have been elected on an 'anti-service charges' ticket. Yet these councillors and the City Manager are now content to drag two activists through the courts and into prison, as part of their draconian plan to make the people of Cork pay for their own rubbish collection service.
FURTHER INFO - FURTHER INFO - FURTHER INFO - FURTHER INFO
FACING IMPRISIONMENT/ COURT NEWS
Mick Barry is an activist with HASC. He is also a member of the Socialist Party in Cork and a member of the ATGWU. In August - Joe Power is an activist with HASC. He is part of the Parklands local area group and a member of SIPTU. In June - Cork Corporation jailed Sandra Condon for 3 days to Limerick jail - however Sandra was released after only one night in prison. In February - Joe Moore, James McBarron and Michael Joyce were jailed. Joe Moore is also President of The Cork Council of Trade Unions and is a member of the Communications Workers Union.
BIN CHARGES - What are they? So called 'Service charges' were introduced throughout Ireland (South) in the 80s as a proposed means of funding some local Goverment services - primarily water and refuse provision. We were told that we could no longer 'expect' of have such services provided for free! In fact, as HASC and others have long argued, workers have always being paying for these services of local government through their normal tax take (the PAYE tax); the imposition of a further local 'levy' - the Service Charge - was, in other words, a form of double taxation. Many politicians have built their careers on 'opposing' Service Charges, only to change 'their' minds after being elected. It was the mass campaign, known as the Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charge Campaigns, that dealt the original Service Charges a fatal blow back in 1997/98. The FDAWCC was a mass campaign build in local areas that advocated non-payment and direct action. It was hugely successful and saw the withdrawal of the tax on the basis that it was 'uncollectable'. Beginning last year, Service Charges 'returned' this time under the guise of 'Bin' or 'Refuse' charges. Local authorities claim to be acting in the interests of the 'environment' by collecting this new tax, whereas in fact it's just a way of making you pay again for something you've already paid through the nose for once in your normal tax. Already In areas where there is no campaign opposing their presence, Bin Charges have already sky rocketed.
Cork Corporation - A History of Imprisonment?
Cork Corporation has a history of dragging local activists from HASC into the courts and to prison. In 1991, Cork Corporation took similar measures when it tried to impose the 'Service Charges' on Cork workers. A number of activists from HASC went to prison but the move was a public relations disaster for the Corpo and they quickly backed down! The Service Charges as an entity were abolished in 1997.
[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement member, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written]