The first was in Liberty hall on Saturday afternoon (22/09/01) organised by Eric Bryne (the deputy lord mayor and labour TD in a fairly marginal seat) and including speakers like Des Geraghty (SIPTU Boss) and Senator Joe Costello. About 65 people in attendance mainly old members labour party, ACCRA (National Body of Residents Associations, NATO (no not THAT Nato the National Association of Tenants Organisations )
This seemed to be the Irish Labour party's attempt to win back some of the ground they have lost to the strong campaign in the city especially in the liberties and to the water charges campaigns, anti incinerator and a host of other local campaigns in Dublin. The speeches were long (5 speakers all in suits and ties 1 1/2 hours in total), boring and quite patronising (this is how to use E-Mail - you should ring your local councillor etc.). Two tactics were advanced lobby Councillors and lobby the media. Dublin City Council are taking a vote on not incorporating the charges into their estimates for next year and suspending collection for this year. So obviously lobbying is important. But I got the best cheer of the day by giving a brief description of the Dun Laoghaire campaign, urging non payment as the strategy that had defeated the water charges and asking for a big picket on October 1st. It was the fact of being the only person to advocate non payment (the labour councillors will never advocate breaking a law) that got that cheer. There was also anger even among labour party members that the last vote had been in secret. One member of ACCRA pointed out that when they'd last done some lobbying Labour party minister Emmet Stagg had advised them to "F off with themselves" in the Dail bar.
Not a fantastic attendance seeing as about 1200 personal invites were given out door to door and it was advertised in our newsletter of which at least 10,000 went out. About 45 people showed up. Good determined meeting though -Dermot Conolly (SP) spoke for the Dublin campaign and there was a very good intervention by a woman from the campaign against a "super dump" in Ballyogan (at the moment she has to rattle her keys and get the kids to sing on the way to school to keep away rats - waste management how are ya)
+ present committee endorsed and new volunteers urged to join
+Picket at first meeting Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council
+We will support picket in Dublin (Oct 1) and the demonstration at the Burlington hotel for the Public/Private partnership conference - 5.30 October 10th
+A day of action at a super market where members will refuse all packaging on goods and leave it in a Dublin super market
+Names and addresses of all local co-ordinators to go on leaflets
+Attempt to build local meetings/groups (this is now being pushed hard by the SP as they are (rightly) worried that the Limerick and Drogheda campaigns were beaten due to lack of strong local groups) [The WSM has been arguing this since the campaign was formed, see for instance http://struggle.ws/ws/2001/63/strategy.html ]
+Membership to be renewed for 3 pounds per year though this will be voluntary
+In the event of non collection - Rubbish to be dumped at council offices for first couple of weeks (It was noted that with non payment now at 38,000 this year according to figure we forced out of them through the freedom of information act that non collection was unlikely at least this side of an election) Then local areas to pick visible sites in their area and dump everything there - the strategy is to try to force things to a head as soon as possible
On the electoral issue - I gave a speech making the points that the water charges were already well beaten by mass non payment and an active campaign of 14,000 members before the Dublin South West by election where Joe Higgins came close to winning (He took a seat for the Socialist Party in the general election)
I also pointed out that where we were strong and organised was in our communities and that electoralism was a waste of time. Also that several Irish TDS including Emmet Stagg, Eamon Gilmore and Kathleen Lynch in Cork had used massive anti service charges campaigns to get help them into power. These 3 where all part of the government which then bought in the water charges. I also made clear that I believed that the candidates we were being asked to endorse in the short term: Lisa (SP) and Richard (SWP) had done a good job in the committee and I didn't oppose their endorsement for any reasons of personal or political animosity.
2 each from the SWP and SP (who had along several members from outside the area present) argued for the endorsement of candidates (if they were for non payment).
Then a couple of non party people mentioned that what ACCRA had done in the past was to just present voters with a list of councillors and how they had voted on the issue throughout their terms.
Afterwards I was thinking that I should have put this as a counter motion and at least I wouldn't have been the only one in the room voting "no" to the electoral endorsement strategy. Very unusually all the parties SP/SWP/WSM had a pint together afterwards - what can this mean !?!
(Note SP = Socialist Party SWP = Socialist Workers Party)
More on the bin charges at http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html